SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) Pakistan's former military ruler Pervez Musharraf has appeared before an anti-terrorism court over the murder of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, officials said.
Musharraf was driven to the court on Tuesday in Rawalpindi from his plush villa on the outskirts of Islamabad where he is serving a two-week arrest order for other charges dating back to his 1999-2008 rule.
Musharraf faces charges of conspiracy to murder Bhutto, who died in a gun and suicide attack in 2007, one of three cases he is fighting in the courts since returning home last month after four years in self-imposed exile.
On Monday, Pakistan's caretaker government refused to put Musharraf on a separate trial for treason, telling the Supreme Court that it was beyond its mandate.
Security at the court was tight with journalists barred from entering. Armed police and paramilitary rangers stood alert and blocked all approaches, an AFP reporter said.
About 150 lawyers opposed to Musharraf shouted "dog, dog, Musharraf dog" while about two dozen of Musharraf's supporters chanted "Long live Musharraf".
He has been threatened with death by the Taliban and barred from running in next month's general election, a humiliating blow to the man who returned home promising to "save" Pakistan.
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) An appeals court in Kuwait has freed on bail an opposition leader at the centre of a political standoff, delaying the final verdict to an unspecified later date.
Mussallam al-Barrak, who has so far evaded arrest, was sentenced to five years in jail for insulting the the emir of the Gulf state.
Al Jazeera's Jamal Elshayyal, reporting from Kuwait City, said that the delay is "probably the best situation" that the government could have opted for.
"On one hand, it appeases the opposition supporters, many of whom had threatened to stage large scale demonstrations if Barrak was put behind bars," said Elshayyal.
"On the other hand, it may change the threat of sending him to jail that would be a cloud hanging over his head - a very valuable card for the government to use in its negotiations if continued political standoffs continue."
Reacting to the court decision, opposition supporters who had gathered outside the court cheered and expressed happiness that the country's diverse opposition had rallied around Barrak.
Elshayyal added that the opposition would still be "on edge" until any final verdict. The court has yet to decide a date for the next hearing.
He said this offers an opportunity for the two parties to reach an agreement, which could pave the way for a lighter or suspended sentence, which may ease the tense situation.
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) At least 16 people have been killed as two car bombs exploded outside the law courts in Somalia's capital Mogadishu and gunmen stormed the building, before a gunbattle erupted with security forces besieging the compound, witnesses said.
Hours after the attack at the court on Sunday, a large blast hit an area near Mogadishu airport, residents said.
"Armed men entered the court and then we heard a blast. Then they started opening fire. We do not know the number of casualties," said Hussein Ali, who works at the courts.
Somali forces arrived and besieged the court compound and there was a second blast while shots continued to ring out.
Reuters reporters counted 16 bodies, some of them in uniform, some not, around the compound, but it was not clear how many of them were government soldiers, attackers, or civilians.
Hours later, a car bomb exploded at a building housing Somali intelligence along the road to the airport as Turkish and African Union (AU) vehicles were passing, police and witnesses said.
Government forces then opened fire and blocked the road.
"The car bomb exploded near the gate of a building housing the Somali security. AU and Turkish cars were also passing there. We are still investigating the target and casualties," Qadar Ali, a police officer told Reuters.
It was not immediately clear who carried out the attacks, but al-Shabab fighters linked to al-Qaeda have claimed responsibility for a number of suicide bombings in Mogadishu this year.
Last month at least 10 people were killed by a car bomb claimed by al-Shabab in Mogadishu, police said.
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) -- Two high school football players in the US state of Ohio are set to face trial on charges they raped a 16-year-old girl while she was unconscious after an alcohol-fuelled party in last summer.
The juvenile court trial, which begins on Wednesday in the eastern city of Steubenville, is expected to last all week.
Attorneys for 16-year-old Ma'Lik Richmond and 17-year-old Trent Mays have denied the charges and are seeking to have Mays' case dismissed because of an inability to subpoena certain witnesses.
The suspects were arrested after a phone-camera picture of the victim on the night she was allegedly sexually assaulted was emailed to many people in the community.
Police say she was unable to recall what happened.
The case in Steubenville in eastern Ohio has attracted attention over allegations that more students should have been charged for failing to stop the attack or knowing about it and not alerting authorities.
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine's office is prosecuting the case after the local prosecutor in Steubenville stepped down to avoid partiality because her son is also a football player.
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – The Occupy Movement in the US has filed a class action lawsuit against the country’s banks for evicting homeowners during a holiday moratorium.
According to Press TV, the lawsuit is supported by the Occupy Fights Foreclosures, a subsidiary of the Occupy Movement.
In 2009, the Bank of America and other banks promised to stop evicting families from their homes during the month of December; however, the Occupy Movement says the pledge has only been a public relations stunt.
Activist Carlos Marroquin said: “They continue to do the foreclosure practices against families during the holiday. Not only were they selling properties at the auction, but they were involved in giving court orders.”
Occupy Fights Foreclosures say they are disappointed that state lawmakers are not doing enough to support the Bill of Rights, which protects homeowners and tenants against greedy lending practices and illegal foreclosures by banks.
The movement says the banks have already found ways to work around the month-old regulations.
The lawsuit is one of the latest actions led by occupiers, who offer help to homeowners across the country.-www.shfaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) -- India’s Supreme Court will hear a petition on Tuesday by one of the five men charged with the gang rape and murder of a student in a bus to shift the case out of the capital on grounds that the atmosphere was too surcharged to ensure a fair trial.
Last month’s assault on the 23-year-old woman on a New Delhi bus triggered an outpouring of anger and grief and calls for swift punishment for the five men and a juvenile who will be y tried separately.
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) –Five men who brutally raped a 23-year-old student, inflicting fatal injuries on her, are due to appear in an Indian court to face murder charges, among other crimes.
The court appearance comes days after police said they discovered forensic evidence to link them to the killing.
The five, who could face the death penalty if convicted, are also charged with kidnap, robbery and conspiracy over the attack on December 16 that sparked protests in India and soul-searching about levels of violence against women.
The defendants have been named as Ram Singh, Mukesh Singh, Vijay Sharma, Akshay Thakur and Pawan Gupta.
A sixth accused, who is 17, is to be tried in a separate court for juveniles.
It normally takes months for the prosecution to assemble such a case, but the legal proceedings are getting under way barely a week after the 23-year-old medical student died of her injuries in a Singapore hospital.
The government, sensitive to criticism that a sluggish justice system often compounds the agony of victims, has pledged to fast-track the case against the defendants who are aged between 17 and 35. They all live in Delhi.
Sunil Gupta , a spokesman for Tihar jail, where the group have been held since their arrest three weeks ago, said they would be produced before the court in the mid-morning
"We are going to produce the accused between 10:30am (05:00 GMT) and 11am and we have made all the preparations," he told AFP news agency.
"Security has been beefed up inside the court premises."
Police have pledged "maximum security" during the hearing at the magistrates' court amid fears for the defendants' safety.
A man was arrested last week as he allegedly tried to plant a crude bomb near the home of one of the men.- www.shfaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) -- New Delhi court put a blanket ban on reporting the trial of the Delhi gang rape case on Monday, responding to a chaotic courtroom packed with news media and a large number of female lawyers who say no one should represent the accused.
‘‘The courtroom is jam-packed with a lot of disturbance from different nooks and corners,’’ Metropolitan Magistrate Namrita Aggarwal said. ‘‘It has become completely impossible to carry out proceedings in this manner.’’
The magistrate, calling it an “unprecedented situation,” invoked an occasionally used statute, section 327 of India’s criminal procedure code, which makes it illegal for anyone unconnected to a case to be in the courtroom during trial and makes it ‘‘unlawful for any person to print or publish any matter in relation to any such proceedings, except with the previous permission of the court.’’
The statute makes it illegal for the news media to report on what happens in the courtroom, even if they receive that information from someone who is there. Generally in such situations, known as “in camera” trials, the court will issue an official statement for the media at the end of the day.
The chaos in the Saket courtroom came before five of the six accused in the Dec. 16 gang rape case appeared in court Monday. The case, and the punishment the men may receive, is being closely watched by lawyers, activists and citizens across India as a for the government’s commitment to deliver justice to victims of sexual assault and violence.
The authorities have charged the men with murder, rape and other crimes that could bring the five adults the death penalty, The Associated Press reported. A sixth suspect, who is 17 years old, is expected to be tried in a juvenile court, where the maximum sentence would be three years in a reform facility.
On Sunday, two of the defendants offered to become ‘‘approvers,’’ or informers against the others, according to reporters present at the hearing. The two were presumably seeking lighter sentences.
After the courtroom was cleared Monday, the five adults were brought in from a cell in the court complex, surrounded by police officers. They emerged from the court hall with their faces hidden with woolen caps.
The case has also stirred strong emotion among India’s legal community. The 13,000-member Saket Bar Association, which represents lawyers where the trial is being held, have vowed not to represent the accused, because of the nature of the crime. The suspects are accused of beating and raping a 23-year old woman repeatedly with an iron rod, and she died of her injuries two weeks later.
‘‘It is a heinous crime,’’ said Rajpal Kasana, president of the bar association. ‘‘There was a good response from the members and they will not represent. The members are emotional about this case,’’ he said.
‘‘Somebody has to represent them,’’ he said, adding that if they don’t engage private lawyers, they will be assigned representatives by the court from Legal Aid.
Dozens of female lawyers appeared in the New Delhi court on Monday, many of them vocally objecting to the accused’s right to representation.
They scuffled with several lawyers who volunteered to represent the accused.
The volunteers included Manohar Lal Sharma, who practices in the Supreme Court and has filed numerous public interest litigations, against top public figures.
‘‘I am only concerned with the judicial system,’’ Mr. Sharma said. ‘‘They should get a free and fair trial,’’ he said.
Lawyers gathered outside the courthouse on Monday afternoon said they planned to try to overturn the ban on reporting the proceedings.
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) -- Bahrain's highest court on Monday upheld the verdicts against 13 activists convicted of plotting to overthrow the government for their role in pro-democracy demonstrations sparked by the success of popular Arab Spring uprisings. The country's highest appeals court took just minutes to rule on the appeal of the 13 people, who received sentences between five years and life, said attorney Mohsin Alawi, who represents three of the 13. The ruling by the court was the last chance the 13 had to reverse their convictions. They were arrested for their roles in anti-government demonstrations in 2011 as the Arab Spring movement swept across the region.
Demonstrations in Bahrain failed to gain the traction of other Arab Spring uprisings after a crackdown by authorities, backed by troops from nearby Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.In November 2011, Bahrain's Independent Commission of Inquiry issued a report critical of authorities' reactions to the protests, which began in February 2011, spurred by uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt.
Bahrain plays a key strategic role in the Middle East and is home to the U.S. Navy's Fifth Fleet headquarters.When Bahrain's lower appeals court upheld the convictions in September, the U.S. State Department said it was "deeply troubled" by the convictions.
Amnesty International has called the convictions of the activists an outrage and urged Bahrain to overturn the sentences.The government has defended its judicial procedures and decisions, saying it provided fair trials. It has pointed out that Amnesty International was one of the international entities that attended the trial.Alawi's clients Abdul Jalil al-Mudad, Muhammed al-Muqdad and Abdul Wahhab Husain received life sentences, he said.
Source : CNN
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) -- France's constitutional council has overturned a 75 percent upper tax rate on income above $1.32m, which was due to be introduced in 2013 by the socialist government.
The council's decision on Saturday, made in response to a motion by opposition conservatives, is a huge blow to President Francois Hollande who had made the rate his flagship tax measure as he sought to have the rich contribute more towards reducing the budget deficit.
While the planned upper tax band was mainly symbolic and would only have affected a few thousand people, it shocked
foreign investors and infuriated high earners in France, prompting some such as actor Gerard Depardieu to flee abroad.
The government had estimated the 75 percent tax rate could raise around $400m a year as it battles to bring down the public deficit to below a European Union ceiling of three percent next year in the face of stalled growth.
The Constitutional Council, which rules on whether laws are constitutional, said in a statement that the way the upper rate was set to be imposed was unfair in the way it would affect different households.
The French prime minister's office responded that the government would push ahead with plans to impose a 75 percent upper income tax and would propose a new measure after the rate was ruled unconstitutional.
"The government will propose a new system that conforms with the principles laid down by the decision of the Constitutional Council. It will be presented in the framework of the next Finance Act," Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said in a statement.