US Marine spared jail in plea bargain

The only US Marine convicted in the killing of 24 unarmed civilians in the Iraqi city of Haditha in 2005, will face no jail time after pleading guilty to a dereliction of duty. Staff Sgt. Frank Wuterich’s plea bargain ends the largest and longest running criminal case against US troops to have come out of the Iraq war. Wuterich now faces a maximum of three months confinement and a demotion in rank to Private. A two-thirds cut in pay was not enforced, as Wuterich, who is divorced, had sole custody of his three daughters. The decision has caused outrage in Iraq where residents slammed it as “an...

France passes Armenian genocide bill, sparking Turkish anger

The French Senate has passed a bill criminalising the denial of the Armenian genocide of 1915, a day which Armenia has hailed as “written in gold” and left Turkey threatening “total rupture”. Whilst hundreds of Turks demonstrated against the bill outside the French parliament, the Senate passed the legislation with 127 votes to 86. The bill means that denial of genocide could lead to a one-year imprisonment and a charge of up to 45,000 Euros in fines. The bill does not make specific references to the Armenian killings, but apart from the Holocaust, for which France already specifically denies, this is the only other recognised genocide. Turkey has reacted angrily to the bill with the Foreign Ministry stating , "Turkey is committed to taking all the necessary steps against this unjust disposition which reduces basic human values and public conscience to nothing." The Turkish ambassador in Paris, Tahsin Burcuoglu, also commented that the move would lead to “total rapture” between the two nations, saying, "When I say total rupture I include things like I can leave definitively." "You can also expect that now diplomatic relations will be at the level of charges d'affaires not ambassadors anymore." Charge d'affaires is the lowest rank of diplomatic representative under the Vienna conventions. Armenians though have praised the bill, with Armenia's Minister of Foreign Affairs, Edward Nalbandian saying , "This day will be written in gold not only in the history of friendship between the Armenian and French peoples, but also in the annals of the history of the protection of human rights." About 500,000 French citizens claim Armenian descent, the largest such population in Europe.

Bosnian Serb war criminal escapee recaptured

A former Bosnian Serb soldier, who was convicted of war crimes and imprisoned, has been recaptured by authorities after escaping from prison four years ago. Radovan Stankovic was convicted of ear crimes and crimes against humanity, after being found guilty of raping and enslaving Bosnian Muslim girls and women during the 1992-1995 war. He was sentenced to 16 years in prison. Stankovic managed to escape from prison in 2007 after accomplices intercepted a prison convoy that was transferring him to hospital, which resulted in the prison director and 10 other employees being suspended. He was...

Armenian genocide debate underway in French Senate

French senators are set to vote on Monday over a controversial bill, which would make the denial of the killing of over 1.5 million Armenians in 1915 by Turkey as genocide, a crime. The bill was overwhelmingly passed through France’s lower house of parliament in December, which prompted outrage in Turkey and led to the cutting off of diplomatic relations between the two countries. On Saturday thousands of Turkish protestors from across Europe came to Paris, to demonstrate against the bill. Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc commented on Monday, "What would happen if a thousand, ten...

Assad rejects Arab League plan to seek Security Council support

No sooner had the Arab League annonced its decision to seek support from the UN Security Council to bring about a peaceful end to Assad's rule through a national unity government and elections held within 6 months, than the Assad regime declared it was rejecting it. According to Syria's official news agency, SANA, the Assad regime has rejected the Arab League's proposals outright as a "conspiratorial scheme". In a statement, broadcast on SANA, the regime said, “Syria considers these decisions a violation of its national sovereignty, a blatant interference in its internal affairs and a...

EU imposes embargo on Iranian oil

The European Union has imposed severe new sanctions on Iran due to its refusal to suspend its nuclear activities. Sanctions include a ban on all new contracts to import Iranian oil to EU member states and the freezing of assets of Iran’s central bank in the EU. In a joint statement , David Cameron, Angela Merkel and Nicholas Sarkozy supported the sanctions and called on Iran to abide by international obligations. “[…] The Iranian leadership has failed to restore international confidence in the exclusively peaceful nature of its nuclear programme. We will not accept Iran acquiring a nuclear...

Mali agrees to take on ICC prisoners

Mali has agreed to open its prison to prisoners sentenced by the International Criminal Court, becoming the first African country to have done so. The agreement was signed on Friday by ICC Vice-President Fatoumata Dembele Diarra and Malian Foreign Affairs Minister Soumeylou Boubeye, which allowed for ICC prisoners to serve their sentences in Malian jails. Boubeye commented , “Through this ceremony, Mali wishes to reaffirm its unfailing commitment to human rights and the ideals of international peace and justice on which the ICC was founded.” “This is a modest, symbolic contribution from Mali...

Saleh leaves Yemen, but calls for justice continue

Anti-government protesters came out onto the streets of Sanaa to celebrate the departure of Yemen's ousted president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, on Sunday. According the Yemeni government's spokesperson, Muhammad Albasha, Saleh was travelling to New York for medical treatment, with a possible detour via Oman. Amidst the calls to prosecute the former president for alleged violations of human rights, the US State Department was sure to stipulate the precise nature of Saleh's visit. In a statement, the US State Department, said, “the sole purpose of this travel is for medical treatment and we expect...

No US weapons to Vietnam, till progress on human rights

US weapons will not be sold to Vietnam until the country reverses its "backward movement" on human rights, said US senators on Friday. Following a recent visit to Vietnam, the US delegation "specifically stated to the Vietnamese that our security relationship will be directly impacted by the human rights issues", said John McCain, who was a member of the delegation. McCain added, "There has not been progress on human rights issues, in fact there has been some backward movement on it." "There's certain weapons systems that the Vietnamese would like to buy from us or receive from us and we'd...

65 years after conviction Nazi war criminal faces jail

An 89-year old Nazi war criminal who was convicted in 1947 of war crimes may finally be jailed, after Bavarian prosecutors filed a motion to see him serve his prison sentence. Klaas Carel Faber, a Dutch native, was convicted for his role in 22 murders and aiding Nazi occupiers in World War II by a Dutch court. He was handed a death sentence which was later commuted to life imprisonment. However, Faber fled to Germany in 1952, where he has avoided extradition attempts due to his German citizenship. European arrest warrants were rejected, as were attempts to put him on trial in Germany, which...

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