SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – A Yemeni military court has sentenced 93 members of the Republican Guard to prison terms of up to seven years for an attack on a military complex in August.
Judge Abdulmalik Ali Rashid al-Arshi convicted the men of offences including, “assaulting a defense complex in Sana’a on August 14, deserting their military posts… refusing orders from the president of the republic, opening fire… resulting in murder and attempted murder,” a statement released by the Yemeni Defense Ministry said on Saturday.
The statement added that the men were given jail terms of between three to seven years, while five others were acquitted.
The assault on the complex in August was sparked by President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi’s decision to bring two Republican Guard brigades under the control of the southern and central military regions.
Hundreds of guardsmen surrounded a defense ministry compound in the capital, Sana’a, but were captured by other military forces and about a hundred were arrested. - www.shfaqna.com/English
Source: Press TV
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – Many have been shocked to see Qatar, the country which has been showing support to the Arab Spring's revolutions in Egypt, Tunisia, and other Arab countries, issuing a harsh life sentence imprisonment on Thursday against an opponent poet of the ruling family over a poem.
The renown Qatari poet Mohammed Ben al-Dheeb was sentenced to life imprisonment by his country state security court over a verse authorities claim insults the Gulf nation’s “symbols” and encourages the overthrow of its ruling system.
“A Qatar court sentenced to life in prison Mohammed al-Ajami, alias Ibn al-Dhib, charged on three counts: incitement against the regime, defamation of the crown prince, Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, and attacking the constitution,” Nejib Naimi told AFP.
He said he would appeal next week against the verdict, which was taken “after six hearings, most of them in secret.”
Under the charges against him, the poet was liable to a maximum five years in prison, said the lawyer, who was formerly Qatar’s justice minister, stressing that “life in prison only applies in the case of an attempted coup.”
Al Jazeera News Channel did not carry the news despite the fact that it has criticized violations of human rights in other Arab countries, including Kuwait, Jordan and Bahrain where opposing the authorities is a permitted act.
Several poets, writers and journalists have sent an appeal to the Qatari emir asking him to release al-Dheeb and compensate him for the year he spent in prison.
Amnesty International said in a statement that the verdict bore “all the hallmarks of an outrageous betrayal of free speech,” and called for Ajami’s immediate release.
“It is deplorable that Qatar, which likes to paint itself internationally as a country that promotes freedom of expression, is indulging in what appears to be such a flagrant abuse of that right,” said Philip Luther, Amnesty’s regional director.
The poet was arrested in November 2011, accused of incitement “to overthrow the ruling system” and “insulting the Emir” Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, the London-based rights group said.
Amnesty said the charges on which Ajami was convicted were based on the content of his poetry.
His arrest followed the publication of the “Jasmine poem” which criticized governments across the Gulf region, saying “we are all Tunisia in the face of the repressive elite,” the statement added.- www.shfaqna.com/English
Source: Al Arabiya
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — The extraordinary hubris of Silvio Berlusconi never ceases to amaze. After being sentenced to four years in jail for tax fraud committed at his Mediaset broadcasting business, the former prime minister of Italy went on his own TV channel, Mediaset’s TG5, to share his side.
The interview, which you can see here (in Italian), ran with a tagline underneath:
“We will respond to this barbarity.”
Berlusconi’s indignation after being sentenced in Milan over television rights.
Berlusconi led with the same story he’s used before. At no time while serving his country did he exercise power over his broadcasting group. (Berlusconi was convicted of conspiring to buy rights to broadcast US movies through offshore companies, while falsely declaring payments to avoid taxes). Why the judge would see things any other way can only be explained as political. Clearly the judge was predisposed against him, he said.
At one point, he’s asked to share his reaction to the judge’s explanation for the four-year sentence. The judge is quoted as saying it’s because of Berlusconi’s “natural capacity for criminality.”
“This is the most incredible part of the sentencing,” says Berlusconi. He’s then given ample time to trot out his many good deeds as a citizen, including his longstanding role as an exceptional business leader, world political leader, father and grandfather.
Will he return to politics after the five-year ban imposed by the judge?
I feel forced to remain in politics to reform the justice system, so that what happened to me will not happen to other citizens.
Berlusconi can be confident that his age and the lengthy appeals process will save him from serving any actual jail time. Nonetheless, Italian citizens worried about suffering the vagaries of their justice system might want to wait before engaging in multi-million-euro tax fraud. Berlusconi later clarified that his future political career will not include another run for the premiership, the position in which he’d be able to do the most damage—sorry, “reform”.
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — The 18-month prison sentence handed down by the Vatican City criminal court on Pope Benedict's former butler, Paolo Gabriele, may mark not the end but the beginning of a complex story of betrayal and discontent at the very heart of the Catholic Church.
Some of the hundreds of sensitive documents stolen from the Pope's desk over an extended period found their way into the Italian mainstream media and into a bestselling book earlier this year.
Pope Benedict wanted closure on the Gabriele case and he got it, only hours before the start of the most important Vatican event of the year, which begins on Sunday.
There are four or five people in the world who have the chance every day to talk to the Pope... Paolo Gabriele could have done it that way”
Vatican communications strategist
He has called a three-week long Synod of Bishops from around the world to advise him on how to spearhead what the Vatican is optimistically calling "The New Evangelisation".
This is code for a high-octane effort by the Catholic Church to counter the insidious spread of secularism within countries - particularly in Europe - that once confidently proclaimed themselves Catholic, but where Sunday mass attendance is now falling yearly to ever-lower levels.
The butler trial has hijacked the Vatican's planned autumn religious news agenda and has concentrated world attention on yet another episode contributing to the credibility crisis affecting the Holy See.
Sunday's edition of the Vatican newspaper, Osservatore Romano, predictably put a brief report on the butler trial at the bottom of its back page.
In theory, under a treaty signed between the Vatican and Italy in 1929, people convicted of crimes carried out in Vatican territory serve their sentences in Italian jails, as there are no suitable long-term detention facilities within Vatican City State.
But if Gabriele, a Vatican citizen, were to be transferred to a jail in Italy he might be tempted by lucrative offers to reveal other details about what he learned while in the Pope's service.
His lawyer has indicated that the former butler does not intend to appeal and is ready to serve his sentence by remaining under house arrest in his "grace and favour" apartment situated inside the walls of Vatican City.
However, a second embarrassing trial looms.
In about a month, the Vatican court is due to hear the case against Claudio Sciarpelletti, a computer technician who worked in the Vatican's Secretariat of State - the equivalent of the papal Cabinet Office.
He was originally charged with aiding and abetting Mr Gabriele in his theft of documents, but the Vatican judges decided to hold his trial separately.
Mr Sciarpelletti has called as one of his witnesses the first upper-level cleric - other than the Pope's personal secretary - to give evidence in the Vatileaks scandal. He's an Italian monsignor in charge of documentation in the Secretariat of State.
The Vatican prosecutor is also considering further possible, and more serious, charges against both Paolo Gabriele and Claudio Sciarpelletti - including violation of state secrets and attacking state security. These would involve heavier punishments than for aggravated theft.
The newly-appointed Vatican communications strategist, Greg Burke, formerly a Fox News TV correspondent, admits that the Pope has personally been very upset about the Vatileaks scandal.
He told the BBC: "There are four or five people in the world who have the chance every day to talk to the Pope and get five minutes of him with no distractions. Paolo Gabriele could have done it that way. Instead, he went off and caused the scandal that it became."— www.shafaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — Shia leader Tajul Muluk’s prison sentence has been increased to four years from the previous two-year sentence on Friday. Prosecutors at Sampang District Court, East Java had originally demanded a five-year imprisonment for Tajul in July.
Tajul is the local Shia cleric whose followers were attacked by a Sunni mob in late August that killed two people. The mob ransacked more than 30 houses leaving 200 people displaced.
However, instead of the perpetrators standing trial Tajul was convicted on blasphemy charges, on July 12. He filed an appeal to the court soon after the verdict.
Tajul’s defender Abdullah Djoepriyono also questioned the verdict, saying that the judgment was unfounded. He said blasphemy charges would need a ministerial decree declaring his Shia teaching to be deviant. (iwa)—www.shafaqna.com/English
Source: The Jakarta Post
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) —Turkey’s deputy prime minister has said his government believes that Iraq's fugitive Sunni vice president, who was sentenced to death on charges of masterminding the murder of rivals, won’t return Iraq and rejected charges against him as “illegal and unfair.”
Tariq al-Hashemi, who fled Iraq after the government brought charges against him, said he will not return to appeal the verdict unless he can be assured of a fair day in court.
Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç told reporters following a Cabinet meeting on Monday that he believes Iraqi vice president will continue to stay in Turkey when asked if Turkey considers extraditing him to Iraq.
Arınç said Turkey gave asylum to Hashemi based on evidence that his case is political rather than legal and that he will stay in Turkey.
Speaking from his exile in Turkey on Monday, al-Hashemi said a fair trial would be impossible in Baghdad and accused Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki - a Shiite and the vice president's longtime foe - of manipulating the courts against him as part of a political vendetta.
"The verdict is unjust, politicized, illegitimate and I will not recognize it," al-Hashemi told reporters in the Turkish capital, Ankara. "But I put it as a medal of honor on my chest because it was al-Maliki, not anyone else, behind it. I'm proud that it is al-Maliki, and not anyone else, to target me."
Asked directly if he will return to Baghdad within 30 days to seek a retrial, as is his right under Iraqi law, al-Hashemi said: "I'm not going, regardless of the time scale that has been offered to me."
Al-Hashemi fled to Turkey after Iraq's Shiite-led government issued the terror charges against him in December, the day after US troops withdrew from the country. He would receive a retrial if he agrees to return to Baghdad, but al-Hashemi has refused, saying he will never get a fair hearing in a Baghdad court.
The politically charged case sparked a government crisis and fueled Sunni Muslim and Kurdish resentment against al-Maliki, whom critics say is monopolizing power.
Arınç quoted remarks by Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, who said the death sentence is unfair. He said before asking what Ankara thinks on this issue, one should better look at what Iraq’s coalition partners, Iraqi president and other political circles are saying. The deputy prime minister said it will be clear after all these statements that a sentence handed down to Hashemi is not legal and just and is politically motivated.
On Sunday, Baghdad's criminal court convicted al-Hashemi and his son-in-law, Ahmed Qahtan, of organizing the murders of a Shiite security official and a lawyer who had refused to help the vice president's allies in terror cases. In a third case, the two defendants were acquitted of the killing of a security officer due to a lack of evidence.
The charges were the first against al-Hashemi to go to trial among the government's allegations that he played a role in 150 bombings, assassinations and other attacks from 2005 to 2011 - years in which the country was mired in sectarian violence that followed the 2003 US-led invasion that ousted Saddam Hussein's Sunni regime. Most of the attacks were allegedly carried out by al-Hashemi's bodyguards and other employees, and largely targeted government officials, security forces and Shiite pilgrims.
The Baghdad court sentenced both al-Hashemi and Qahtan in absentia to death. They have 30 days to appeal the verdict and could win a retrial if they return to Iraq to face the charges.
Sunday's verdict was announced as Iraq reeled from a daylong pounding of bombings and shootings that left 92 people dead and more than 360 wounded in nearly two dozen attacks across the country.
Most of the court evidence against al-Hashemi came from 10 of his former bodyguards who testified they were ordered by Qahtan, and then paid, to carry out killings in small groups. Qahtan managed al-Hashemi's vice presidential office.
Al-Hashemi has long accused the government of torturing the bodyguards into giving false statements. His defense team did not offer any witnesses or testimony during the trial's ten hearings.
Al-Hashemi - who has been in office since 2006 - is on Interpol's most-wanted list, but Turkey has shown no interest in sending the vice president back to Baghdad, straining diplomacy between the two neighboring nations.
Arınç said he believes Hashemi won’t go to Baghdad for retrial and that his conviction will be final. He cited 1989 bilateral judicial deal between Turkey and Iraq, which provides legal basis for situations like this. He added that Turkey has a choice over Hashemi and Ankara will use it when necessary. But he said this will be later when his conviction will be final.—www.shafaqna.com/English
Source: Todays Zaman