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November 18, 2011

Philippine court issues arrest warrant for former President Arroyo

Philippine court issues arrest warrant for former President Arroyo

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Friday, November 18, 2011

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Arroyo in 2009
Image: World Economic Forum.

A Philippine regional court has issued an arrest warrant for former Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, on charges of election fraud. This came hours after the Philippine Supreme Court found — for the second time this week — that the government could not prohibit her from leaving the country, because no charges had been filed against her.

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court temporarily suspended a government ban on Arroyo’s leaving the country. Arroyo claims to suffer from a rare bone disease, and arrived by ambulance at the Manila airport, with neck brace and wheelchair, to go abroad for treatment. She was denied exit by officials at the airport.

The Supreme Court’s ruling on Friday gave Justice Secretary Leila de Lima ten days to explain why she is not in contempt of court for ordering airport officials to deny Arroyo’s exit on Tuesday. If found in contempt of court, she could be subject to a jail term of six to ten months. De Lima maintains the government’s actions were legal.

Current President Benigno Aquino was elected last year promising to prosecute his predecessor, Arroyo. When Arroyo became president in 2001, she prosecuted her predecessor for corruption; after six years of luxurious house arrest, Joseph Estrada was convicted and given a life prison sentence, from which Arroyo promptly pardoned him. Aquino has said he would not pardon Arroyo.

Arroyo’s father was once President, as was Aquino’s mother. Arroyo is now a member of Congress, along with her two sons and a brother-in-law. The Supreme Court is dominated by members appointed by Arroyo.

Last year, Aquino set up a commission to investigate Arroyo, but the commission was ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.

The current charges against Arroyo are for fraud in the Senate elections of 2007.



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March 6, 2011

UK\’s most-read papers found to be in contempt of court

UK’s most-read papers found to be in contempt of court

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Sunday, March 6, 2011

The Royal Courts of Justice, where the High Court sits in London and heard the case against the tabloids

The Sun and The Daily Mailtabloid newspapers that are the most-read papers in the UK — have been found to be in contempt of court by the High Court in London. The case is thought to be a landmark decision regarding Internet publishing.

The case dates back to November 2009, when Ryan Ward was on trial before Sheffield Crown Court, accused of murdering Craig Wass. The prosecution case was that Ward hit Wass with a brick, and no firearms allegation was made against Ward at trial, but both titles placed a photograph on their websites of Ward with a gun.

Cquote1.svg We conclude that the nature of the photograph created a substantial risk of prejudicing any juror who saw that photograph against the defendant Ward Cquote2.svg

—High Court

The papers took the image off their sites within hours, after being ordered to do so. The trial judge, His Honour Judge Michael Murphy QC, who had previously ordered the jury not to consult the Internet, did not halt the prosecution as he felt “satisfied” the jury hadn’t seen the picture. Ward was convicted.

Lawyers for Associated Newspapers and News Group Newspapers — respective owners of The Daily Mail and the The Sun — had argued in their defence that using the photo posed an “insubstantial” risk of prejudice, denying contempt although accepting they made “a mistake”.

Attorney General Dominic Grieve had described “seriously impeded or prejudiced” proceedings had jurors accessed the photos. Angus McCullough QC represented Grieve, telling the court the “strict liability” provisions of the Contempt of Court Act 1981 had been breached.

Attorney General Dominic Grieve brought the action against the papers

High Court judges Lord Justice Moses and Mr Justice Owen Thursday sided with Grieve and McCullough: “We conclude that the nature of the photograph created a substantial risk of prejudicing any juror who saw that photograph against the defendant Ward.”

Cquote1.svg [A] freelance journalist, then working for the website, added the photograph without taking any legal advice Cquote2.svg

The Daily Mail

Lord Justice Moses’ judgment mentioned the significance of the case in regards to online publications: “The criminal courts have been troubled by the dangers to the integrity and fairness of a criminal trial, where juries can obtain such easy access to the internet and to other forms of instant communication. Once information is published on the Internet, it is difficult if not impossible completely to remove it… This case demonstrates the need to recognise that instant news requires instant and effective protection for the integrity of a criminal trial.”

The Daily Mail’s website covered the ruling in an article in which they also offered an explanation for how they published the photograph. “[A] journalist had submitted an article about the prosecution along with the photograph by e-mail, including a warning stating the handgun should not be included in any copy of the photograph as it would prejudice the trial,” it reads. “But when the story was put up online a freelance journalist, then working for the website, added the photograph without taking any legal advice.”

The penalties for Associated Newspapers and News Group Newspapers will be considered by the judges later.



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July 20, 2010

Singapore police arrest death penalty book author

Singapore police arrest death penalty book author

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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

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Singapore police arrested British author and journalist Alan Shadrake one day after the launch of his book about the country’s use of the death penalty.

Shadrake, 75, was arrested on Sunday morning at a hotel in Singapore and taken into custody by police on charges of criminal defamation, in response to a complaint lodged by the city-state’s Media Development Authority (MDA) over the contents of his new book, Once a Jolly Hangman: Singapore Justice in the Dock. Separately, the Attorney-General served Shadrake with an application for an order of committal for contempt of court, accusing him of “cast[ing] doubt on the impartiality, integrity, and independence” of Singapore’s courts through his book.

Shadrake’s latest book discusses alleged “double standards” in the country’s application of the death penalty, and contains interviews with local human rights activists, lawyers, and former police officers, including retired Changi Prison executioner Darshan Singh; Singh later claimed that he had been “tricked” into the interview. In earlier media comments, Shadrake stated that he expected “trouble” but no concrete action from authorities over his book, lest they draw even more attention to its claims. Retailers took his book off shelves after inquiries by the MDA; a spokesman for the MDA stated that the book was not banned, but suggested that booksellers “seek legal advice to ensure that the books they sell do not contravene Singapore laws”.

Shadrake has written for a variety of newspapers, including The Daily Telegraph of London as well as the New Straits Times of neighbouring Malaysia. His previous book, The Yellow Pimpernels, told the tale of various attempts to escape from East Germany over the Berlin Wall. If convicted, he faces a two-year imprisonment and a fine.



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April 1, 2009

US Justice Department to withdraw Stevens charges

US Justice Department to withdraw Stevens charges

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Wednesday, April 1, 2009

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Ted Stevens

The United Stated Department of Justice has asked for corruption charges against former Alaska Senator Ted Stevens to be dropped because evidence was withheld from the defense team by the original prosecutors. The Justice Department has stated that they will not retry Stevens.

In a statement, US Attorney General Eric Holder said, “After careful review, I have concluded that certain information should have been provided to the defense for use at trial. In light of this conclusion, and in consideration of the totality of the circumstances of this particular case, I have determined that it is in the interest of justice to dismiss the indictment and not proceed with a new trial.”

Stevens was convicted in October on seven felony counts of lying on senate disclosure forms about gifts, largely in the form of free renovations to his home, received from an oil service company; his conviction is thought to have been a large factor in his November electoral defeat to former Anchorage mayor Mark Begich, the current junior Senator from Alaska. Stevens immediately appealed his conviction and has maintained his innocence.

The prosecution case has met with a number of procedural difficulties, with US District Court judge Emmet G. Sullivan holding the prosecution in contempt in March for failing to turn over documents concerning an FBI whistleblower’s reports of mishandling of the case. The Justice Department has since replaced the case’s prosecutors, and the allegations of misconduct have held up sentencing from the original convictions.

The filed papers indicate that notes were never turned over from an interview that has the oil contractor estimated the house renovation for far less then he specified at trial.

The original trial team was removed, but in the end Attorney General Eric Holder thought it would be best if the case was dropped. NPR’s source indicate that Holder wish to forcefully transmit that prosecutorial misconduct will not be tolerated. The trying prosecutors are under investigation by the Justice Department for their conduct in the matter.

Stevens, now 85, served as Alaska’s Senator from 1968 to 2009.



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March 19, 2009

Pennsylvania Amish farmer jailed for outhouse violations

Pennsylvania Amish farmer jailed for outhouse violations

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Thursday, March 19, 2009

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An Amish man from Cambria County, Pennsylvania has been sentenced to 90 days in jail after claiming his religious beliefs prevent him from bringing two school outhouses into compliance with state sewage regulations.

Andy Swartzentruber, of Barr Township, was jailed and fined US$1,000 on a contempt of court charge for violating a previous court order. County officials said waste was collected in buckets and dumped outside.

Judge Norman Krumenacker also ordered the Amish school and outhouse on Swartzentruber’s property to be locked up until the violations are addressed. The judge said Swartzentruber could be released early if the sewage issues are resolved.

The ruling shocked about a dozen men and women in the courtroom, including his wife Frances, with whom Swartzentruber has 16 children. But he said he would rather accept jail-time than violate his religious convictions.

“I stand by my religion. If I don’t, (it) could destroy the whole church group,” he said.

Pennsylvania Department of Education officials said the local school district is responsible for educating the school’s 18 children, or the parents could seek home-schooling or private schools.

Media reports did not specify exactly what needs to be done to resolve the sewage issue.



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January 3, 2009

Philippines Senate and House of Representatives to probe ‘P50-million drug bribe mess’

Philippines Senate and House of Representatives to probe ‘P50-million drug bribe mess’

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Saturday, January 3, 2009

World map of the Corruption Perceptions Index by Transparency International, which measures “the degree to which corruption is perceived to exist among public officials and politicians”. High numbers (green) indicate less perception of corruption, whereas lower numbers (red) indicate higher perception of corruption.

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Tuesday saw Philippines President, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, direct Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) officials and Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Raul M. Gonzalez to investigate and charge the people involved in an alleged drug bribery attempt involving wealthy Filipino families. The president also instructed the chair of the Dangerous Drugs Board, Vicente Sotto III to keep in custody the drug suspects, the so-called ‘Alabang Boys’. This pending the DOJ’s reinvestigation of the alleged P50-million bribe mess.

In September, Richard Santos Brodett, age 25, Jorge Jordana Joseph, age 22, and Joseph Ramirez Tecson, age 23, members of the “Alabang Boys”, were arrested in a series of buy-bust operations in Alabang, Muntinlupa City, and Cubao in Quezon City. 60 ecstasy tablets, small bags of marijuana and cocaine sachets were taken from the suspects by the drug agents. The three suspects underwent the DOJ’s preliminary investigation, but the drug case was dismissed by a draft resolution signed by 2 prosecutors from the National Prosecution Service on December 2.

In the challenged resolution, State Prosecutor John Resado, with the recommending approval of Senior State Prosecutor Philip I. Kimpo and Chief State Prosecutor Jovencito Zuño, noted that the police operatives conducted illegal arrests and unlawful warrantless searches on the vehicles of the three suspects. In addition, Joseph was “under the control of the PDEA agents without the presence of any counsel when information against respondent Tecson was extracted from him,” it added.

The PDEA has accused the suspect’s family members of attempting to pay a 50 million Philippine peso bribe to one of the DOJ prosecutors handling the drug case; in exchange the case was to be dismissed. PDEA Special Enforcement Service head Major Ferdinand Marcelino has revealed that the 50 million peso bribe offer to a DOJ prosecutor was merely the first attempt of three. The Tecson family reportedly offered him 3 million pesos which was later raised to 20 million for the release of the suspects. PDEA Legal and Prosecution Service lawyer Alvaro Lazaro affirmed Marcelino’s accusations, which, however, were all denied by the suspects’ families.

The Chief State Prosecutor, Jovencito Zuño, categorically dismissed accusations that 50 million pesos had changed hands, and that he and the prosecutors had been bribed. “It’s not true. That’s a big lie. They’re just speculating,” he said. Zuño has also alleged that the factual findings were first reviewed by state prosecutors Philip Quimpo and Misael Ladaga. The Justice Secretary has ordered the NBI to investigate not only the government prosecutors but also the PDEA.

According to PDEA chief, Ret. Gen. Dionisio Santiago, the “Alabang Boys” – Richard Santos Brodett, Jorge Jordana Joseph and Joseph Ramirez Tecson – are part of an international drug network. “This is a big group, and they use the Internet to get drugs from America. This operation may lead to a bigger one. They (Alabang Boys) are second in line. It’s hard to penetrate the second line,” Santiago explained. (DOJ) Secretary Raul M. Gonzalez on Thursday, however, has asked PDEA Director General Dionisio Santiago to submit evidence to show that money changed hands or had been paid to DOJ prosecutors handling the case amid the pending NBI probe of the matter.

Meanwhile, The Philippines Congress is set to hold Congressional hearings on the case with a view to introducing legislation. “This is a big scandal involving a government agency,” said House vice chairman of committee on illegal drugs, Representative Antonio Cuenco of Cebu City. He has said that the House of Representatives’ probe will begin on January 5. The three suspects are still detained at the PDEA Quezon City detention centre.

The Senate of the Philippines is also set to conduct hearing on the bribery mess. According to Dangerous Drugs Board chair Vicente “Tito” Sotto III, Sen. Gregorio “Gringo” Honasan, chair of the Senate committee on Public Order and Illegal Drugs, has agreed to lead a Senate inquiry investigating the 50-million peso drug bribe.

In a related drug bust operation, La Union Rep. Tomas Dumpit said that the buy-bust in his province had a ‘similar ending.’ “That’s very possible just like the case in Naguilian, La Union where a shabu (methamphetamine hydrochloride) laboratory was discovered in Barangay Bimotobot, Naguilian, La Union worth one trillion pesos but it was dismissed by the DOJ.” In July, a “shabu” laboratory was searched by the PDEA and the local police, who discovered eight truckloads of equipment and chemicals that could produce 180,000 kilograms of the prohibited drugs. La Union Bishop Artemio Rillera has recently petitioned the President to re-open the cases. On November 12, the DoJ three-member prosecution panel dismissed the cases against former Dagupan police chief Supt. Dionicio Borromeo, four policemen and the shabu laboratory lot owner. Because of the ‘Alabang Boys’ bribery mess, President Arroyo on Tuesday, ordered the reinvestigation of the shabu laboratory case.

This is not the first time that the Philippine judiciary and government had been involved in massive corruption. In the recent GSIS-Meralco bribery case, the High Court dismissed Associate Justice Vicente Q. Roxas, punished Associate Justice Jose L. Sabio, Jr. with 2 months suspension, and reprimanded 2 other CA Justices. In September 2006, Atty. Romeo Roxas accused Justice Minita Chico-Nazario of issuing a ruling for certain considerations, and calling the Supreme Court a “dispenser of injustice”. Roxas said her decision ordering him and one Santiago Pastor to return more than 17 million Philippine pesos to Antonio de Zuzuarregui Jr. was wrong and unjust. Roxas told Nazario: to “sleep well if you still can” and that she would be judged by the “Supreme Dispenser of Justice.” Roxas was cited for indirect contempt and fined 30,000 Philippine pesos.

In April 2007, Philippine Court of Appeals then Presiding Justice Ruben Reyes has ordered an investigation and a regular auditing and inventory of temporary restraining orders (TROs) issued by the 69 CA Justices. Reyes stated: “I will order a monthly or quarterly inventory of TROs, for transparency and to watch the movements of the so-called Dirty Dozen [the 12 most corrupt CA justices].” CJ Reynato Puno said that Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez had not yet submitted the list and the Supreme Court was waiting for its delivery amid her formal investigation against the “Dirty Dozen.”

In September 2007, Lawyer Victor de la Serna has accused Justice Dante Tinga of accepting a 10-million bribe Philippine pesos in the Johnny Chan versus Carmelita Fudot lawsuit, regarding a land located in Doljo, Panglao, Bohol. De la Serna alleged that in the September 26, 2007 meeting, Chan, owner of Bellevue Hotel, paid Tinga 10 million Philippine pesos in exchange for a favorable decision. On September 13, 2007, Tinga penned a decision in favor of Chan’s Cattleya Land Inc., over Fudot, client of De La Serna. The court, however, upheld Tinga, and fined De La Serna 30,000 Philippine pesos for indirect contempt.

In September 2007, Justice Consuelo Ynares-Santiago has denied charges that she received 10-million Philippine pesos (US$ 224,000) bribe money (as published by The Daily Tribune, Malaya newspaper’s Amado Macasaet and Newsbreak, the previous week).

In January 2005, and December 2006, Philippines Social Weather Stations has released the results of its 2 surveys on corruption in the judiciary. It has reported that: a) “like 1995, 1/4 of lawyers said many/very many judges are corrupt. But (49%) stated that a judges received bribes, just 8% of lawyers admitted they reported the bribery, because they could not prove it. [Tables 8-9]; judges, however, said, just 7% call many/very many judges as corrupt[Tables 10-11] ;b) Judges see some corruption; proportions who said – many/very many corrupt judges or justices: 17% in reference to RTC judges, 14% to MTC judges, 12% to Court of Appeals justices, 4% i to Shari’a Court judges, 4% to Sandiganbayan justices and 2% in reference to Supreme Court justices [Table 15].”

According to the 2008 Political and Economic Risk Consultancy (PERC) report, the Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia and China are considered among the most corrupt Asian economies. “The Philippines is a sad case when it comes to corruption, and is probably no worse than in places like Indonesia and Thailand,” the report added. PERC has revealed that “the Philippines scored 9.0 out of a possible 10 points under a grading system used by PERC under which zero is the best score and 10 the worst.”

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court of the Philippines last week, has affirmed the conviction and 40 years imprisonment sentence of Zeng Wa Shui, a Chinese citizen and Maribel Lagman, his Filipino partner. On March 14, 1996, both had possession, in Angeles City, Pampanga, of more than 600 kilos of liquid shabu and more than 1,600 kilos of ephedrine hydrochloride, a main ingredient in the production of the drug.



Related news

  • “Philippines Supreme Court to probe leak of draft judgment in election case” — Wikinews, December 21, 2008

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December 21, 2008

Philippines Supreme Court to probe leak of draft judgment in election case

Philippines Supreme Court to probe leak of draft judgment in election case

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Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Supreme Court of the Philippines in Manila.

The Supreme Court of the Philippines has started an inquiry into leaks of a draft of a still unpromulgated election decision by ponente Justice Ruben T. Reyes on the citizenship case of Negros Oriental Rep. Jocelyn Limkaichong of the 14th Congress of the Philippines.

Four justices were visibly absent at the En Banc ceremony of retiring Justice Ruben Reyes Thursday. Justices Consuelo Ynares-Santiago, Alicia Austria-Martinez, Conchita Carpio-Morales and Renato Corona did not attend the traditional court proceeding. Newsbreak Magazine has reported that “Justice Ruben T. Reyes, who came to the SC under a cloud of doubt, is leaving the hallowed chamber under a cloud of doubt. The leakage scandal that has embarrassed members of the Court has further underscored the respect–or lack of it–his peers have bestowed on Reyes.”

In a December 12 three-page en banc resolution, penned by Justice Ruben Reyes, the Court formed an Investigating Committee under Justice Justice Leonardo Quisumbing, “to investigate the unauthorized release of the unpromulgated ponencia … to determine who are responsible for this leakage of a confidential internal document of the En Banc, and to recommend to the En Banc the appropriate actions thereon.”

A preliminary contempt of court citation order was also issued against the petitioner Louis Biraogo. The unpublished decision, “is part of the confidential internal deliberations of the Court. No copy of the unpromulgated ponencia can be released to any person outside of the En Banc. Any release of a copy to the public, or to the parties, of an unpromulgated ponencia infringes on the confidential internal deliberations of the Court and constitutes contempt of court,” the Court ruled.

Chief Justice of the Philippine Supreme Court Reynato S. Puno speaking at 2007 U.P. Law alumni homecoming.

In the 2007 Philippine congressional election for Negros Oriental’s first district, Limkaichong won over poll candidates Jerome Paras and Oliver Paras. Biraogo had filed a disqualification case against Limkaichong for allegedly being a Chinese. He distributed to local media copies of the 37-page July 15 Court decision duly signed by all of the justices except Chief Justice Reynato Puno. The unpromulgated judgment annulled Limkaichong’s election victory.

In a two-page letter, Biraogo has revealed an “irregularity” in the High Tribunal. He told media, that “a law dean, who is a close fraternity brother of Chief Justice Puno and a junior assistant of the Solicitor-General, who is also Puno’s fraternity brother, argued for Limkaichong during the oral argument conducted on Aug. 26, instead of the counsel on record.” CJ Puno is a member of the UP College of Law, Alpha Phi Beta fraternity. Biraogo accused Chief Justice Puno of delaying the release of the decision. “My suspicion is the Chief Justice may have a hand in this irregularity. These circumstances led me to believe the Chief Justice may have been dishonest in his dealings…and may prejudice the faith of people in the judiciary. I was likewise informed (by an unnamed SC) employee that (Puno) was the one who prodded the members to hold oral arguments,” Biraogo added. “The said decision was dated July 15, 2008 but what is irregular and maybe anomalous is that it was not promulgated until now. In fact what is questionable is an oral argument was conducted on August 26, 2008 despite a decision already made on July 15, 2008,” he further said.

This is not the first time that the Philippine judiciary had been involved in massive corruption. In the recent GSIS-Meralco bribery case, the High Court dismissed Associate Justice Vicente Q. Roxas, punished Associate Justice Jose L. Sabio, Jr. with 2 months suspension, and reprimanded 2 other CA Justices. In September 2006, Atty. Romeo Roxas accused Justice Minita Chico-Nazario of issuing a ruling for certain considerations, and calling the Supreme Court a “dispenser of injustice”. Roxas said her decision ordering him and one Santiago Pastor to return more than P17 million to Antonio de Zuzuarregui Jr. was wrong and unjust. Roxas told Nazario: to “sleep well if you still can” and that she would be judged by the “Supreme Dispenser of Justice.” Roxas was cited for indirect contempt and fined P30,000.

In April 2007, Philippine Court of Appeals then Presiding Justice Ruben Reyes ordered an investigation and a regular auditing and inventory of temporary restraining orders (TROs) issued by the 69 CA Justices. Reyes stated: “I will order a monthly or quarterly inventory of TROs, for transparency and to watch the movements of the so-called Dirty Dozen [the 12 most corrupt CA justices].” CJ Reynato Puno said that Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez had not yet submitted the list and the Supreme Court was waiting for its delivery amid her formal investigation against the “Dirty Dozen.”

In September 2007, Lawyer Victor de la Serna accused Justice Dante Tinga of accepting a P10-million bribe in the Johnny Chan versus Carmelita Fudot lawsuit, regarding a land located in Doljo, Panglao, Bohol. De la Serna alleged that in the September 26, 2007 meeting, Chan, owner of Bellevue Hotel, paid Tinga P10 million in exchange for a favorable decision. On September 13, 2007, Tinga penned a decision in favor of Chan’s Cattleya Land Inc., over Fudot, client of De La Serna. The court, however, upheld Tinga, and fined De La Serna P 30,000 for indirect contempt.

In September 2007, Justice Consuelo Ynares-Santiago denied charges that she received P10-million (US $ 224,000) bribe money (as published by The Daily Tribune, Malaya newspaper’s Amado Macasaet and Newsbreak, the previous week).

In January 2005, and December 2006, Philippines Social Weather Stations released the results of its 2 surveys on corruption in the judiciary. It reported that: a) “like 1995, 1/4 of lawyers said many/very many judges are corrupt. But (49%) stated that a judges received bribes, just 8% of lawyers admitted they reported the bribery, because they could not prove it. [Tables 8-9]; judges, however, said, just 7% call many/very many judges as corrupt[Tables 10-11] ;b) Judges see some corruption; proportions who said – many/very many corrupt judges or justices: 17% in reference to RTC judges, 14% to MTC judges, 12% to Court of Appeals justices, 4% i to Shari’a Court judges, 4% to Sandiganbayan justices and 2% in reference to Supreme Court justices [Table 15].”



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November 8, 2008

UK revokes visa of former Thai PM

UK revokes visa of former Thai PM – Wikinews, the free news source

UK revokes visa of former Thai PM

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Saturday, November 8, 2008

File photo of Thaksin Shinawatra from 2005
Image: Helene C. Stikkel (US DoD).

An email circulated to airlines yesterday revealed that the UK government has revoked the visas of Thai ex-Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra and his wife. Both have been convicted and sentenced to jail terms in Thailand. The email instructs airlines not to facilitate travel for the couple to return to the UK. Reports indicate that the deposed and convicted ex-PM is currently in China with plans to travel to the Philippines this weekend. The whereabouts of his wife are not currently known.

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Thaksin and his wife, Potjaman Shinawatra, have spent much of the past two years living in exile in the UK after jumping bail on charges against them in Thailand. The visa revocation, issued by Immigration Liaison Manager Andy Gray of the UK embassy in Bangkok, will come as a harsh blow to Thaksin, who had expressed a strong interest in remaining in England as an exile, asserting that charges back home were politically motivated.

Lawyers involved in the successful prosecution of Thaksin were known to be in the process of drawing up extradition papers to submit to the UK’s Home Office; with his chosen country of refuge now in doubt it may become more difficult to have him returned to Thailand to serve his two year sentence for corruption. In an email to Wikinews the UK Home Office declined to comment on the extradition, specifying it was policy not to discuss individual cases.

Extradition would have been covered under a treaty drawn up in 1911 between the two countries and the onus would have been on Thailand to prove that the conviction ties up with similar UK laws. Claims by Thaksin that such a request would have been politically motivated would be considered by the court under the UK’s Extradition Act. The Home Office also confirmed that Thaksin’s diplomatic passport would not have exempted him from such proceedings.

Potjaman, Thaksin’s wife, escaped prosecution in the corruption case over a Bangkok land deal, however she already faces a three year sentence for tax evasion. Visas for the couple’s children were unaffected by the action, they remain free to travel to and from the UK.

Cquote1.svg Nobody can bring me back to Thailand, except royal kindness of HM the King or the power of the people Cquote2.svg

—Thaksin Shinawatra

Despite his self-imposed exile, the ex-PM who was deposed by a bloodless coup in 2006 has remained in the news and public consciousness in Thailand. Several high-profile court cases alleging corruption and malfeasance during his time as premier and leader of the now-banned Thai Rak Thai (lit: Thais love Thais) political party remain outstanding.

Last Saturday, he gave a telephone address to pro-government protesters rallying at the country’s national stadium in Bangkok. Members of the current government, which is accused of being a proxy for Thaksin, managed to amass tens of thousands of red-shirted supporters to listen to the address. The rally has been condemned by the Law Society of Thailand as contempt of court, and their statement on the November 1 phone-in warned that media repeating its content could be added to the defendants in any legal proceedings.

During the phone-in Thaksin said, “Nobody can bring me back to Thailand, except royal kindness of HM the King or the power of the people”; this can be construed as an appeal for a royal pardon, or for his supporters to be more vocal.



Related news

  • “Thailand’s “Truth Today”, Thaksin tonight; pro-government protesters mass at stadium” — Wikinews, November 1, 2008
  • Thailand’s fugitive ex-PM sentenced to two years for corruption” — Wikinews, October 22, 2008
  • “Sixth arrest warrant issued for Thailand’s former PM Thaksin” — Wikinews, October 15, 2008

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October 21, 2008

Canadian farmer vows to continue providing customers with raw milk despite order

Canadian farmer vows to continue providing customers with raw milk despite order

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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

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A Canadian farmer has announced that he will continue to provide his customers with raw milk despite the fact that courts have ordered him to stop providing his customers with the product.

Raw milk is milk that has not been pasteurized
Image: Kyle May.

“Yes, we will continue with what we’re doing,” he said, after being ordered by the courts to stop selling the product. He made these comments while drinking a glass of milk.

By refusing to obey the demands of the court, Michael Schmidt, the farmer involved, faces charges of contempt of court.

Raw milk is banned in Canada, as it can carry infections such as E. coli, salmonella and Listeria. Schmidt insists, however, that none of his customers have ever suffered from infections as a result of his milk, despite the fact that he has been in the business of selling it for over twenty years.

Supporters of the right to consume raw milk argue that it has large health benefits and a much better taste. “The rich and sweet taste of unpasteurized milk would blow most people away,” claimed Schmidt. “I bet that 90 per cent of the people who would have the choice by blind tasting would all go for raw milk because that is the taste of milk and not what you buy on the shelf.”

Schmidt also argued that his civil disobedience was a good way to change a law which he believes to be unjust. “When Gandhi picked up the salt, he kept marching, and when Martin Luther King, Jr. started the Montgomery bus strike, he kept going until the law was changed,” he explained.



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July 1, 2008

Libel case against Wikimedia Foundation dismissed

Libel case against Wikimedia Foundation dismissed

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Wikimedia-logo.svg This article mentions the Wikimedia Foundation, one of its projects, or people related to it. Wikinews is a project of the Wikimedia Foundation.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Image: Copyright Wikimedia Foundation. All rights reserved.

Wikinews has confirmed through several sources that a lawsuit filed against the Wikimedia Foundation, the parent organization of the popular online encyclopedia Wikipedia, by the ‘Barbara Bauer Literacy Agency,’ has been dismissed. As a result of the associated conflict, edits pertaining to Bauer on Wikipedia were deleted and, following the commencement of legal proceedings, Wikinews exclusively obtained the offending texts and edits.

Judge Jamie S. Perri dismissed the case citing the 1996 Communications Decency Act, promoting free speech over the Internet. The act protects the provider of interactive computer services from liability for publishing content provided by another.

At the start of the court action, Wikimedia asked the court to dismiss the case. “Wikimedia asks the Court to dismiss the claims against it, with prejudice. The claims against Wikimedia are frivolous because they are barred as a matter of law by the Communications Decency Act (47 U.S.C. § 230( c), “Section 230” or the “CDA”), by the First Amendment, and by New Jersey law. Wikipedia is an online encyclopedia written by its users, the content of which can be created, edited, or removed by anyone.

The claims arise from statements made on numerous Internet websites, which Plaintiffs assert describe them as being among the “20 Worst Literary Agents” and having “no…significant track record of sales to commercial (advance paying) published” states the motion filed in Superior Court of New Jersey, Monmouth County,” said the organization.

Before the case started, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) issued a press release that defends against a suit Bauer filed against Wikimedia which states that contributors on Wikipedia posted “libel statements” against Bauer that labeled her as number three on a list of twenty people grouped as the “worst” publishing agents, and included allegations that she had “no documented sales” through her firm. Complaints filed against her and her firm state that Bauer had a bad record when dealing with “commercial publishers,”, and questioning her practice of, “charge[ing] in advance of making a sale, against the generally-accepted industry practice.”

In March of 2007, Wikimedia was named in a lawsuit filed in Superior Court of Monmouth, New Jersey, along with 20 other defendants which included operators of the Absolute Write web site and the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America who authored the list.

Wikinews has learned that Bauer’s Wikipedia article was deleted some time during the course of the proceedings, along with the edit history of her article and its talk page as a “courtesy.” During the investigation, Wikinews found that all edits to her article, and edits to pages requesting it to be deleted were deleted by Wikipedia administrator MaxSem.

Wikinews has also exclusively obtained all the edits affiliated with Bauer’s article, which was sourced accurately, the deletion requests along with the edit history of all pages related to the discussion about Bauer’s article. Fearing retribution on Wikipedia by other administrators and users, the source who provided Wikinews with the edit information wishes to remain anonymous.

The deleted Wikipedia article on Bauer stated that she claims “to have placed books with a number of well-known commercial publishers, but does not provide specific details of the books in question. In 2006, due to the number of complaints they receive, Writer Beware (part of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America writers’ organization) listed Bauer’s agency as one of the twenty worst literary agencies.”

Wikipedia logo.
Image: Copyright Wikimedia Foundation. All rights reserved.

Bauer’s article was started on May 25, 2006 but was not deleted until March 21, 2008 by Wikipedia administrator and Wikimedia office employee Cary Bass, who was not able to comment on the incident. It underwent two requests to be deleted, with the second one passing, and it was subsequently deleted. It had first been deleted on March 25, 2007 by “Doc Glasgow”, an administrator, amid allegations that the information presented in the article was “a bloody disgrace, full of ‘allegations of who said what on message boards. No mainstream media interest.” It was later restored on March 26 to undergo a “deletion review.” It was then deleted just under one year later after an extensive discussion.

Barbara Bauer was shown to have threatened a number of website hosts who reproduced the “Top 20 Worst Agents” list, or referred to her inclusion in the list; her complaints apparently prompted a brief takedown of the AbsoluteWrite.com site.

One blog even states that Bauer attempted to get people fired from their jobs, after allegedly posting information online that was in any way connected to the Top 20 worst agents.

“Barbara Bauer has been running around the Internet lately threatening people who’ve posted information about her fee-charging, non-manuscript-selling ways, including people who’ve linked to the Twenty Worst list. She has threatened legal action; she has even attempted to get people fired,” states Victoria Strauss on accrispin.blogspot.com.

The EFF, along with attorneys at Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton, are defending Wikimedia submitting a motion to dismiss the suit against the Foundation. The Foundation says that the First Amendment of the United States Bill of Rights and New Jersey law protect the contributors from any legal action.

Wikimedia attorney, Mike Godwin
Image: Alice Lipowicz.

Specifically, Section 230 of the act states, “no provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider. No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be held liable on account of any action voluntarily taken in good faith to restrict access to or availability of material that the provider or user considers to be obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, excessively violent, harassing, or otherwise objectionable, whether or not such material is constitutionally protected.”

Bauer claims that her agency informed Wikimedia of the false allegations, and requested that they be removed. She also claimed that Wikimedia refused to remove the information when requested. Bauer further states that the contributors involved with her Wikipedia article “conspired to defame Plaintiffs and interfere with their prospective economic advantage.”

Mike Godwin, attorney for the Foundation states that the point of Wikipedia is to return the knowledge it provides, to a worldwide culture.

“We provide a platform through Wikipedia for smart citizens to give their knowledge back to a larger culture. Our ability to offer citizens that platform is what’s at stake in this case,” said attorney representing the Foundation, Mike Godwin in a EFF press release on May 2, 2008.

Despite the claim of freedom of speech, Wikinews has learned that on the same day, Godwin requested that the edits and the article on Wikipedia relating to Bauer, be deleted by a community action. Godwin also stated that the Foundation has “filed court papers in which we stated that the article is no longer available.”

“I’ve been trying to keep ‘Office actions’ to a minimum (partly in reaction to some fairly heavy-handed WP:OFFICE stuff in the past), and it would be helpful to be able to say that any given action was taken by the community, not by the Foundation,” said Godwin on Wikipedia’s Administrators’ noticeboard on May 2, the same day of the EFF’s press release. ‘Office actions’ are changes directly authorized by the Foundation which are made to content on any of the Wikimedia projects. The edits are made by staff members working for the Foundation’s head office located in San Francisco, California. Edits of this nature are generally “removals of questionable or illegal Wikimedia content following complaints,” according to Wikipedia’s policy on ‘Office Actions.’

A few minutes after, MaxSem, a Wikipedia administrator, deleted the edits related to the deletion request of Bauer’s article as a “courtesy” stating that there would be “legal problems” if the edits were not deleted.

Wikinews originally intended to publish an article at the start of the court case, although it was deleted from the article by Wikinews administrator Brian McNeil, who said that it was deleted “per consultation with Mike Godwin” as the posting of any material relating to Bauer, on Wikimedia sites, could be considered contempt of court. The deleted copy of this article was then leaked to Wikileaks, who released a press release saying that the Wikimedia Foundation censored Wikinews. At the time of this The Register reported that “Wikinews – like its sister site, Wikipedia – bills itself as a place without bias. Ostensibly, it’s a democratic news source that never answers to a higher power. But that’s just a setup for the latest act in the world’s greatest online farce.” The Register has a long history of denigrating Wikimedia projects.



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This exclusive report features first-hand journalism by one or more Wikinews members. See the collaboration page for more details.

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