Dominique Strauss-Kahn bat le bitume (Photo credit: bixintx)
Dominique Strauss-Kahn has been charged in France with “aggravated pimping” for his alleged participation in a prostitution ring.
His attorneys released a statement in November calling the allegations against Mr. Strauss-Kahn “unhealthy, sensationalist and not without a political agenda.”
Mr. Strauss-Kahn has been linked with a number of sex scandals in the past year, but he has not been convicted of any crime.
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The French Supreme Court has struck down a law prohibiting denial of the Armenian genocide and reaffirmed the French commitment to liberty.
The law would have punished a denial with up to a year in prison and a maximum fine of roughly $60,000.
The French council has concluded that such a law “infringed unconstitutionally on the exercise of the liberty of expression and communication.”
French President Sarkozy has vowed to redraft the law. The Constitutional Council suggested that some limitations could be placed on speech to protect privacy and public order, but that such limitations must be “necessary, adapted and proportional.” Pres. Sarkozy’s office seemed to latch on to the language and stated that, “The President of the Republic considers that (genocide) denial is intolerable and must therefore be punished.” What is intolerable, however, is using the criminal code to combat anti-historical speech as defined by the government. If government can define the “correct” history for citizens to recite, they can rewrite history.
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Haitian President Michel Martelly says he won’t interfere in the case of former dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier, the National Palace said Friday.
The office of the president issued a statement saying he respects the rule of law and has no right to meddle in the affairs of an independent judiciary that’s overseeing the case.
As evidence of the government’s commitment the law, the statement cites Pres. Martelly’s request for international legal experts to help Haiti’s judicial system.
The announcement comes five days after a magistrate recommended that Mr. Duvalier face trial for alleged financial crimes but not for human rights abuses.
The ruling prompted human rights groups to accuse the judge of disregarding testimony and laws that would have enabled prosecution on the more serious crimes. Some activists also complain that many of the new government’s officials have personal or family ties to the Duvalier regime that ruled from 1971 until it was overthrown in 1986.
Mr. Duvalier was nineteen when he assumed the presidency from his more ruthless father, Francois.
The younger Duvalier moved back to Haiti last year after twenty-five years in exile in France. Upon his return, he was charged with embezzlement and human rights abuses.
His defense attorneys contend that the statute of limitations against the alleged crimes has expired, a matter disputed by international rights advocates.
The Duvalier case is now expected to go before the attorney general, who must decide whether the case should go to a court that handles lesser crimes.
Via the Associated Press.
The Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia
Cambodia’s U.N.-backed Khmer Rouge tribunal has run out of money to pay the wages of hundreds of workers as contributions from donor countries have dried up.
None of the more than 300 Cambodians working at the tribunal, from judges to drivers, will be paid this month and may not receive their salaries in February and March either.
Some judges and prosecutors have not been paid since October.
The funding shortfall does not affect the more than 130 international employees at the war crimes court. The United Nations pays the wages of international employees.
Voluntary contributions from donor nations pay the salaries of Cambodian staff members.
The court, set up to find justice for the deaths of two million people during the Khmer Rouge’s rule, is perpetually cash-strapped, but this is the longest period of non-payment.
The tribunal has long been dogged by allegations of political meddling, adding to donor reluctance to stump up more cash.
Court officials will travel to New York in February to meet with donor countries to discuss the court’s budget for 2012-2013.
The court, which has spent $150 million since 2006, has completed one trial, sentencing a former prison chief to thirty years. An appeal verdict in that case is expected on Friday.
A second trial involving the regime’s three most senior surviving leaders is ongoing.
Via The Bangkok Post.
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A new report published by New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) said that French police abuse their power when dealing with black and Arab men and boys. It said that police “conduct unwarranted and abusive identity checks” against the minorities.
The report, “The Root of Humiliation: Abusive Identity Checks in France,” reveals that minority youth, including children, are “subjected to frequent stops involving lengthy questioning, invasive body pat-downs, and the search of personal belongings.”
HRW says that continuous stops of youth are arbitrary and have no semblance of purpose, except to harass the young minorities.
The rights group, which conducted interviews with youth in France, said police often use insulting language and racial slurs as well as unnecessary force against the youth.
Under French law, police have wide discretion to carry out identity checks without any suspicion of criminal wrongdoing. The police do not record the stops, and those stopped do not receive any written documentation explaining the incident. Most of those HRW interviewed had never been told the grounds for the stops they had experienced.
France’s parliament is preparing to vote on a measure that would criminalize the denial of the Armenian genocide, drawing the ire of Turkey as well as free speech proponents.
The law would prescribe a maximum one-year prison sentence and € 45,000 penalty to violators. This penalty is equal to the law that criminalized the denial of the Holocaust.
The Armenian genocide took place in 1915, when Ottoman Turks killed 1.5 million Armenians. France officially recognized the Armenian genocide by passing a law in 2011. Turkey objects to the description of genocide and comparison to the Holocaust.
French President Nicholas Sarkozy, whose signature is necessary to ratify the bill, has thrown his support behind the bill.
Some French Members of Parliament oppose the bill. Foreign Minister Alain Juppe slammed it, calling it “a futile and counterproductive bill, which will have serious consequences on bilateral ties with Turkey.” French Senator Nathalie Goulet has declared that she will “go on a crusade” against the proposed anti-denial law.
The National Assembly, France’s lower house, approved the bill last month. The passage prompted Turkey to recall its ambassador and suspend all contracts and military coöperation with France. Turkey’s Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogam slammed the bill, calling it “politics based on racism, discrimination and xenophobia” and accused France of committing genocide in Algeria and being complicit to genocide in Rwanda.
The French law has also come under fire for its assault on free speech.
Protests of two dozen people of Turkish descent took place in front of the French embassy in New York City on January 5 to oppose the bill’s ratification. Protestors want an open and fair discussion to find out what truly happened in 1915.
The Senate will debate the bill on January 10. This will be followed by discussion by the Constitutional Court between January 23 and January 30. If the bill passes, it will go to President Sarkozy’s desk, where he will have the opportunity to sign the bill into law.
Via Impunity Watch.
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Former Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega arrived Sunday evening in his home country, nearly twenty-two years after U.S. forces forcibly removed him from office.
The seventy-seven-year old is expected to go straight to prison for crimes during his rule. He will be housed in an individual cell in a medium-security facility in Gamboa.
Mr. Noriega arrived at the Tocumen International Airport in Panama City.
Mr. Noriega’s extradition began Sunday morning with a flight from Paris to Madrid. He was in Spanish police custody during a four-hour layover before leaving Madrid Sunday afternoon on a flight to Panama City.
Last month, a French court authorized his extradition to Panama, where he will be tried for the killings of Hugo Spadafora and one other person. He was convicted in absentia.
Mr. Noriega has been in France since 2010, after two decades in an American prison, where he was convicted of drug trafficking and other crimes.
Last year, a French court sentenced Mr. Noriega to seven years in prison for laundering 2.3 million euros through banks. He was ordered to pay the money back.
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Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou survived a confidence vote after days of turmoil sparked by his proposal to hold a referendum on a bailout for his country.
Having backed off the referendum plan, Prime Minister Papandreou announced just before the confidence vote he would seek a coalition government.
Political instability in Greece has caused political and financial jitters throughout Europe and beyond, as world leaders met in France for the G-20 economic summit with concerns that Greece’s woes could spread to major European economies.
President Barack Obama told the summit that events in Greece underscore the importance of implementing a Greek economic bailout plan fully and quickly.
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