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Silvio Berlusconi sentenced to seven years in jail for sex with under-age prostitute at ‘bunga bunga’ partyA Milan court on Monday convicted former Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi of paying for sex with an underage prostitute during infamous “bunga bunga” parties at his villa and then using his influence to try to cover it up.Berlusconi, 76, was sentenced to seven years in prison and barred from public office for life — a sentence that could mean the end of his two-decade political career. However, there are two more levels of appeal before the sentence would become final, a process that can take months.Berlusconi holds no official post in the current Italian government, but remains influential in the uneasy cross-party coalition that emerged after inconclusive February elections. (Photos: Alberto Lingria, Giuseppe Aresu / AFP / Getty Images)

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Silvio Berlusconi sentenced to seven years in jail for sex with under-age prostitute at ‘bunga bunga’ party
A Milan court on Monday convicted former Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi of paying for sex with an underage prostitute during infamous “bunga bunga” parties at his villa and then using his influence to try to cover it up.

Berlusconi, 76, was sentenced to seven years in prison and barred from public office for life — a sentence that could mean the end of his two-decade political career. However, there are two more levels of appeal before the sentence would become final, a process that can take months.

Berlusconi holds no official post in the current Italian government, but remains influential in the uneasy cross-party coalition that emerged after inconclusive February elections. (Photos: Alberto Lingria, Giuseppe Aresu / AFP / Getty Images)

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Q&A: Brazil's 'big monthly' corruption trial

Dozens of defendants are due to go on trial at the Brazilian Supreme Court on Thursday in what is billed as one of the biggest political corruption scandals in the country’s recent history.

The case will be closely watched by the governing Workers’ Party (PT) and former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who remains a key figure in Brazilian politics.

The judges will consider allegations that, between 2003 and 2005, politicians and officials diverted public funds to buy political support for Lula’s government. The scheme became known as “mensalao” or the “big monthly” allowance.

BBC Brasil explains the background.

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Three members of the Russian band Pussy Riot appear at a Moscow court where they are on trial for hooliganism. The band performed a ‘punk prayer’ in Moscow’s main cathedral in protest against Vladimir Putin’s return as president. The charges could carry a punishment of up to seven years in prison

(Source: Guardian)

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Argentina’s Videla and Bignone guilty of baby theft
Two former leaders during Argentina’s military rule have been found guilty of overseeing the systematic theft of babies from political prisoners.
A court in Buenos Aires sentenced Jorge Videla to 50 years in prison and Reynaldo Bignone to 15 years.
They are already serving lengthy jail sentences for crimes committed under military rule, between 1976 and 1983.
At least 400 babies are thought to have been taken from their parents while they were held in detention centres.
The verdict is the culmination of a trial that began in February 2011.
In total, 11 people, most of them former military and police officials, were facing charges.
Nine, including Videla and Bignone, were convicted in the case over the theft of 34 babies. Two were found not guilty.
Videla, 86, received the maximum sentence as he was held criminally responsible for 20 of the thefts.
The court said Videla was guilty of the “systematic abduction, detention and hiding of minors under the age of 10”.
Videla listened to the verdict without showing any visible emotion. Both he and Bignone were already serving time in prison.
Videla was sentenced to life imprisonment in 2010 for the torture and deaths of 31 dissidents during his rule.
Bignone was also given a life sentence in April 2011 for the torture and murder of political opponents.
Victims’ groups nevertheless welcomed the latest verdicts as a confirmation of the defendants’ guilt for what many consider as the most heinous crimes committed under military rule.
Pictured: Jorge Videla (l) and Reynaldo Bignone (r) showed no emotion when the verdicts were read

Argentina’s Videla and Bignone guilty of baby theft

Two former leaders during Argentina’s military rule have been found guilty of overseeing the systematic theft of babies from political prisoners.

A court in Buenos Aires sentenced Jorge Videla to 50 years in prison and Reynaldo Bignone to 15 years.

They are already serving lengthy jail sentences for crimes committed under military rule, between 1976 and 1983.

At least 400 babies are thought to have been taken from their parents while they were held in detention centres.

The verdict is the culmination of a trial that began in February 2011.

In total, 11 people, most of them former military and police officials, were facing charges.

Nine, including Videla and Bignone, were convicted in the case over the theft of 34 babies. Two were found not guilty.

Videla, 86, received the maximum sentence as he was held criminally responsible for 20 of the thefts.

The court said Videla was guilty of the “systematic abduction, detention and hiding of minors under the age of 10”.

Videla listened to the verdict without showing any visible emotion. Both he and Bignone were already serving time in prison.

Videla was sentenced to life imprisonment in 2010 for the torture and deaths of 31 dissidents during his rule.

Bignone was also given a life sentence in April 2011 for the torture and murder of political opponents.

Victims’ groups nevertheless welcomed the latest verdicts as a confirmation of the defendants’ guilt for what many consider as the most heinous crimes committed under military rule.

Pictured: Jorge Videla (l) and Reynaldo Bignone (r) showed no emotion when the verdicts were read

Filed under argentina americas human rights trial

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Four guilty of Danish plot over Muhammad cartoons
Four men have been sentenced to 12 years in prison by a Danish court which found them guilty of planning a terrorist attack on newspaper offices.
The court heard the men wanted to kill people in revenge for Jyllands-Posten’s publication of cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad in 2005.
The four were all Muslims resident in Sweden. Police said they were arrested just hours before the foiled attack.
All the men had denied charges of terrorism against them.
The Copenhagen-based newspaper’s publication of the cartoons of Muhammad sparked protests in Muslim countries.
Pictured: The trial of the four men took place in Glostrup, outside the capital Copenhagen

Four guilty of Danish plot over Muhammad cartoons

Four men have been sentenced to 12 years in prison by a Danish court which found them guilty of planning a terrorist attack on newspaper offices.

The court heard the men wanted to kill people in revenge for Jyllands-Posten’s publication of cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad in 2005.

The four were all Muslims resident in Sweden. Police said they were arrested just hours before the foiled attack.

All the men had denied charges of terrorism against them.

The Copenhagen-based newspaper’s publication of the cartoons of Muhammad sparked protests in Muslim countries.

Pictured: The trial of the four men took place in Glostrup, outside the capital Copenhagen

Filed under denmark europe trial terrorism

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Abuse claims swamp Kazakh oil riot trial
On a near empty square surrounded by drab apartment buildings, the setting for Kazakhstan’s most important trial is low key.
The court room itself is housed in a youth centre in the regional capital, Aktau. It holds around 150 people, but that is not enough given the unprecedented interest in proceedings.
The defendants are squeezed into a corner behind panels of security glass. Relatives, observers and journalists occupy two additional rooms to watch proceedings on television screens.
For seven weeks this has been the scene of a remarkable drama in which one defendant after another told the court how they had been abused during interrogation.
"I was repeatedly suffocated with a plastic bag… you cannot imagine how it feels when there is not enough air to breath, my eyes were popping out," 46-year-old Roza Tuletayeva, a former oil worker, told the court on 16 April.
"They hung me by my hair… There were other things done to me but I am too ashamed to talk about it here."
Roza is one of 37 people charged with organising or supporting mass unrest in the desert oil town of Zhanaozen last December. Most of the accused are former oil workers.
Last May, several thousand of them went on strike demanding fair pay. But local courts declared the strike illegal and the state oil company dismissed almost 1,000 employees.
The sacked oil workers began a peaceful occupation of the town square, day and night, for seven months.
It ended violently on 16 December 2011 - when local government officials tried to organize celebrations for the 20th Independence Day anniversary on the same square.
Rioting broke out and security forces opened fire, killing at least 15 unarmed civilians and injuring nearly 100.
The day - meant to celebrate the achievements of oil rich Kazakhstan two decades after the end of the Soviet Union - came to signify the biggest challenge for the leadership of long-time President Nursultan Nazarbayev.
Pictured: Witnesses at the trial in Aktau complained of abuse by the police

Abuse claims swamp Kazakh oil riot trial

On a near empty square surrounded by drab apartment buildings, the setting for Kazakhstan’s most important trial is low key.

The court room itself is housed in a youth centre in the regional capital, Aktau. It holds around 150 people, but that is not enough given the unprecedented interest in proceedings.

The defendants are squeezed into a corner behind panels of security glass. Relatives, observers and journalists occupy two additional rooms to watch proceedings on television screens.

For seven weeks this has been the scene of a remarkable drama in which one defendant after another told the court how they had been abused during interrogation.

"I was repeatedly suffocated with a plastic bag… you cannot imagine how it feels when there is not enough air to breath, my eyes were popping out," 46-year-old Roza Tuletayeva, a former oil worker, told the court on 16 April.

"They hung me by my hair… There were other things done to me but I am too ashamed to talk about it here."

Roza is one of 37 people charged with organising or supporting mass unrest in the desert oil town of Zhanaozen last December. Most of the accused are former oil workers.

Last May, several thousand of them went on strike demanding fair pay. But local courts declared the strike illegal and the state oil company dismissed almost 1,000 employees.

The sacked oil workers began a peaceful occupation of the town square, day and night, for seven months.

It ended violently on 16 December 2011 - when local government officials tried to organize celebrations for the 20th Independence Day anniversary on the same square.

Rioting broke out and security forces opened fire, killing at least 15 unarmed civilians and injuring nearly 100.

The day - meant to celebrate the achievements of oil rich Kazakhstan two decades after the end of the Soviet Union - came to signify the biggest challenge for the leadership of long-time President Nursultan Nazarbayev.

Pictured: Witnesses at the trial in Aktau complained of abuse by the police

Filed under Kazakhstan asia trial oil

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Charles Taylor verdict: ‘He should taste the bitterness of the law’
People in Sierra Leone and Liberia say what the imminent verdict in the ex-president’s war crimes trial will mean
The start of the rainy season in Freetown doesn’t dampen the vibrancy of the city. Blue, pink and green houses line its narrow winding roads. Street sellers wrapped in brightly printed cloth swarm through the neverending traffic. People are trying to move on from the horrors of Sierra Leone’s civil war. Some can even forgive, but very few can forget, the death and devastation of one of the most brutal conflicts in Africa.
"I wasn’t a beggar before. Now I have come to be a beggar. Just to get food for my children, to send them to school," says Kadiatu Fofana, who lives with a constant reminder of the atrocities committed in the war. She sits outside her concrete shack in a wheelchair, having lost both her legs after an attack by the notorious Revolutionary United Front (RUF) rebels.
They came to her village in 1999. As she ran, they started hacking at her legs with machetes. Both legs had to be amputated in hospital.
Between 1991 and 2002, at least 50,000 people were killed across the country, thousands more were mutilated and 2 million displaced from their homes – close to half the population.
For many, there is one man they hold responsible – Charles Taylor, former president of neighbouring Liberia. The first African head of state to be tried in an international court, Taylor will on Thursday hear the verdict of the Special Court for Sierra Leone in his five-year trial on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity, including murder, rape, sexual slavery and using child soldiers.
Edward Conteh, another of Sierra Leone’s amputees who lost his left arm just below the elbow to an RUF axe, wants Taylor punished. “He should never be free to breathe the free air that we breathe again. He once told Sierra Leoneans that we are going to taste the bitterness of war, so Charles Taylor should taste the bitterness of the law.”
Pictured: Charles Taylor during his trial at the UN Special Court for Sierra Leone in Freetown. Photograph: Jerry Lampen/AFP/Getty Images

Charles Taylor verdict: ‘He should taste the bitterness of the law’

People in Sierra Leone and Liberia say what the imminent verdict in the ex-president’s war crimes trial will mean

The start of the rainy season in Freetown doesn’t dampen the vibrancy of the city. Blue, pink and green houses line its narrow winding roads. Street sellers wrapped in brightly printed cloth swarm through the neverending traffic. People are trying to move on from the horrors of Sierra Leone’s civil war. Some can even forgive, but very few can forget, the death and devastation of one of the most brutal conflicts in Africa.

"I wasn’t a beggar before. Now I have come to be a beggar. Just to get food for my children, to send them to school," says Kadiatu Fofana, who lives with a constant reminder of the atrocities committed in the war. She sits outside her concrete shack in a wheelchair, having lost both her legs after an attack by the notorious Revolutionary United Front (RUF) rebels.

They came to her village in 1999. As she ran, they started hacking at her legs with machetes. Both legs had to be amputated in hospital.

Between 1991 and 2002, at least 50,000 people were killed across the country, thousands more were mutilated and 2 million displaced from their homes – close to half the population.

For many, there is one man they hold responsible – Charles Taylor, former president of neighbouring Liberia. The first African head of state to be tried in an international court, Taylor will on Thursday hear the verdict of the Special Court for Sierra Leone in his five-year trial on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity, including murder, rape, sexual slavery and using child soldiers.

Edward Conteh, another of Sierra Leone’s amputees who lost his left arm just below the elbow to an RUF axe, wants Taylor punished. “He should never be free to breathe the free air that we breathe again. He once told Sierra Leoneans that we are going to taste the bitterness of war, so Charles Taylor should taste the bitterness of the law.”

Pictured: Charles Taylor during his trial at the UN Special Court for Sierra Leone in Freetown. Photograph: Jerry Lampen/AFP/Getty Images

Filed under africa liberia sierra leone trial war crimes

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Turkey’s ex-army chief on trial for coup plot
Ilker Basbug is among 29 accused of being part of shadowy group plotting to overthrow government.
Ilker Basbug, Turkey’s former army chief, has gone on trial on charges of leading a terrorist group accused of plotting to overthrow the government of Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the prime minister.
Basbug raised a clenched fist and waved to supporters as the trial opened at the Silivri high security prison complex in Istanbul on Monday.
Basbug, chief of staff from 2008 to 2010, is accused of being a leader of a shadowy network dubbed “Ergenekon”, behind a string of alleged plots against the Erdogan government.
His lawyer, however, said at the weekend, the case targeted not only Basbug but also “the Turkish armed forces and even, in political terms, the state”.
"This is perhaps the longest and most seismic operation in Turkish judicial history," Al Jazeera’s Anita McNaught, reporting from Istanbul, said.
"It dates back to 2007 when the Turkish government said they had uncovered evidence of a shadowy organisation called Ergenekon, which had been plotting for several years and in many ways and forms in collaboration with the Turkish military and judiciary to overthrow the democratically elected government of Turkey."
She said the resulting arrests, trials and detentions “have continued to climb up the ladder of seniority in Turkey until finally they reached the man who headed the Turkish armed forces between 2008 and 2010”.
Basbug branded the case against him as tragi-comic when he was first detained in January. “He calls it psychological warfare,” our correspondent said.
Pictured: The “Ergenekon” network is said to have been behind the alleged plots against Erdogan’s government [Reuters]

Turkey’s ex-army chief on trial for coup plot

Ilker Basbug is among 29 accused of being part of shadowy group plotting to overthrow government.

Ilker Basbug, Turkey’s former army chief, has gone on trial on charges of leading a terrorist group accused of plotting to overthrow the government of Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the prime minister.

Basbug raised a clenched fist and waved to supporters as the trial opened at the Silivri high security prison complex in Istanbul on Monday.

Basbug, chief of staff from 2008 to 2010, is accused of being a leader of a shadowy network dubbed “Ergenekon”, behind a string of alleged plots against the Erdogan government.

His lawyer, however, said at the weekend, the case targeted not only Basbug but also “the Turkish armed forces and even, in political terms, the state”.

"This is perhaps the longest and most seismic operation in Turkish judicial history," Al Jazeera’s Anita McNaught, reporting from Istanbul, said.

"It dates back to 2007 when the Turkish government said they had uncovered evidence of a shadowy organisation called Ergenekon, which had been plotting for several years and in many ways and forms in collaboration with the Turkish military and judiciary to overthrow the democratically elected government of Turkey."

She said the resulting arrests, trials and detentions “have continued to climb up the ladder of seniority in Turkey until finally they reached the man who headed the Turkish armed forces between 2008 and 2010”.

Basbug branded the case against him as tragi-comic when he was first detained in January. “He calls it psychological warfare,” our correspondent said.

Pictured: The “Ergenekon” network is said to have been behind the alleged plots against Erdogan’s government [Reuters]

Filed under turkey europe asia trial

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Ex-paramilitaries jailed for Guatemala massacre
Five former members of right-wing Guatemalan paramilitaries have been sentenced to a total of 7,710 years in jail for their role in a 1982 massacre.
The men were charged with guiding the army to Plan de Sanchez, a rural community in northern Guatemala, and taking part in the ensuing massacre.
Many of the victims were women and children.
Nearly a quarter of a million people were killed in Guatemala’s civil war which ran from 1960 to 1996.
Judge Jazmin Barrios set a sentence of 30 years for each of the 256 victims of the former paramilitaries, plus 30 years for crimes against humanity.
However Judge Barrios said that the five men would only have to serve 50 years each - the maximum sentence allowed under Guatemalan law.
The massacre at Plan de Sanchez was one of 600 documented by a United Nations Truth Commission.
Pictured: The men will only serve 50 years each, the maximum allowed by Guatemalan law

Ex-paramilitaries jailed for Guatemala massacre

Five former members of right-wing Guatemalan paramilitaries have been sentenced to a total of 7,710 years in jail for their role in a 1982 massacre.

The men were charged with guiding the army to Plan de Sanchez, a rural community in northern Guatemala, and taking part in the ensuing massacre.

Many of the victims were women and children.

Nearly a quarter of a million people were killed in Guatemala’s civil war which ran from 1960 to 1996.

Judge Jazmin Barrios set a sentence of 30 years for each of the 256 victims of the former paramilitaries, plus 30 years for crimes against humanity.

However Judge Barrios said that the five men would only have to serve 50 years each - the maximum sentence allowed under Guatemalan law.

The massacre at Plan de Sanchez was one of 600 documented by a United Nations Truth Commission.

Pictured: The men will only serve 50 years each, the maximum allowed by Guatemalan law

Filed under Guatemala americas trial

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Court convicts former Congolese warlord of using child soldiers
REPORTING FROM JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA — The International Criminal Court in the Hague on Wednesday found former Congolese warlord Thomas Lubanga guilty of using children as soldiers, the first verdict in the panel’s 10-year history. He could face life imprisonment.
After a three-year trial, the court convicted Lubanga of recruiting boys and girls as soldiers during a civil war in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2002 and 2003.
The verdict was seen as a major breakthrough in forcing warlords and politicians to be accountable for atrocities and crimes against humanity, sending a message that international justice eventually would catch up with them.
Three victims gave evidence during the trial, while others participated indirectly, such as by making submissions to the court. The evidence said girls forcibly recruited by Lubanga were used as sex slaves, while videos aired in court showed Lubanga surrounded by child combatants.
The verdict sent a clear message that recruiting and using children as combatants or sex slaves is a crime against humanity. Tens of thousands of children continue to be used in wars across the continent, according to humanitarian agencies.
Pictured: Photo: Former Congolese rebel commander Thomas Lubanga, center, sits in a courtroom at the International Criminal Court in the Hague on Wednesday. Credit: Evert-Jan Daniels / EPA

Court convicts former Congolese warlord of using child soldiers

REPORTING FROM JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA — The International Criminal Court in the Hague on Wednesday found former Congolese warlord Thomas Lubanga guilty of using children as soldiers, the first verdict in the panel’s 10-year history. He could face life imprisonment.

After a three-year trial, the court convicted Lubanga of recruiting boys and girls as soldiers during a civil war in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2002 and 2003.

The verdict was seen as a major breakthrough in forcing warlords and politicians to be accountable for atrocities and crimes against humanity, sending a message that international justice eventually would catch up with them.

Three victims gave evidence during the trial, while others participated indirectly, such as by making submissions to the court. The evidence said girls forcibly recruited by Lubanga were used as sex slaves, while videos aired in court showed Lubanga surrounded by child combatants.

The verdict sent a clear message that recruiting and using children as combatants or sex slaves is a crime against humanity. Tens of thousands of children continue to be used in wars across the continent, according to humanitarian agencies.

Pictured: Photo: Former Congolese rebel commander Thomas Lubanga, center, sits in a courtroom at the International Criminal Court in the Hague on Wednesday. Credit: Evert-Jan Daniels / EPA

Filed under Democratic Republic of Congo africa war crimes ICC trial child soldiers

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Guatemala Dos Erres massacre soldier given 6,060 years
A court in Guatemala has sentenced a former soldier to 6,060 years in prison for his role in the massacre of 201 people during the civil war.
Pedro Pimentel Rios, 55, was extradited from the US last year.
He is the fifth former soldier to be convicted for the killings in the village of Dos Erres in 1982.
The sentence is largely symbolic as the maximum actual term is 50 years but it comes amid renewed moves to try those implicated in civil war atrocities.
The massacre at Dos Erres was one of the most violent episodes in Guatemala’s brutal 36-year civil conflict.
A special unit of the Guatemalan army known as the Kaibiles stormed the village where they suspected residents were supporting or sheltering left-wing guerrillas.
Over three days, the soldiers systematically killed hundreds of men, women and children, shooting or bludgeoning them to death and throwing bodies down a well.
Pimentel had lived in California for many years before being arrested in 2010, and extradited to Guatemala the following year.
He denied any involvement in the massacre.
Pimentel was sentenced to 30 years for each death and another 30 years for crimes against humanity.
Last year, four other soldiers were also convicted of the Dos Erres massacre and given similar sentences.
Pictured: Pimentel was involved in one of the most shocking episodes of the civil war

Guatemala Dos Erres massacre soldier given 6,060 years

A court in Guatemala has sentenced a former soldier to 6,060 years in prison for his role in the massacre of 201 people during the civil war.

Pedro Pimentel Rios, 55, was extradited from the US last year.

He is the fifth former soldier to be convicted for the killings in the village of Dos Erres in 1982.

The sentence is largely symbolic as the maximum actual term is 50 years but it comes amid renewed moves to try those implicated in civil war atrocities.

The massacre at Dos Erres was one of the most violent episodes in Guatemala’s brutal 36-year civil conflict.

A special unit of the Guatemalan army known as the Kaibiles stormed the village where they suspected residents were supporting or sheltering left-wing guerrillas.

Over three days, the soldiers systematically killed hundreds of men, women and children, shooting or bludgeoning them to death and throwing bodies down a well.

Pimentel had lived in California for many years before being arrested in 2010, and extradited to Guatemala the following year.

He denied any involvement in the massacre.

Pimentel was sentenced to 30 years for each death and another 30 years for crimes against humanity.

Last year, four other soldiers were also convicted of the Dos Erres massacre and given similar sentences.

Pictured: Pimentel was involved in one of the most shocking episodes of the civil war

Filed under Guatemala americas war crimes trial

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Iceland calls its former PM to account for financial crash
Geir Haarde, whose trial began this week, could face up to two years in jail if convicted over country’s 2008 economic collapse
On a low hill overlooking Reykjavik’s harbour the members of a small camera crew wrapped in many layers of winterwear are wrestling with the horizontal snow in an attempt to film a short comedy sketch. The set-up of the skit, one explains, involves “a bum, he lives in the park and he is trying to sell tickets at crazy high prices for the show”.
The show in question is taking place in a nearby white building, and the joke turns on the fact that, three and a half years after what is known here simply as The Crash, Icelanders have learned the hard way that you can’t, after all, value something worthless simply by naming your price, and then adding zeroes.
That’s not to say that what is taking place inside the white building – Reykjavik’s Culture House – is not, in its own way, a hot ticket.
In a smart wood-panelled former library on the first floor a special criminal court has been convened for the first time in the country’s history. Its purpose is to try the former Icelandic prime minister Geir Haarde over the spectacular economic collapse in October 2008 which catastrophically bankrupted the small island nation.
Haarde, 60, is to date the only politician anywhere in the world to face criminal charges over the financial crisis. The charges, which he denies, include “serious neglect of his duties … in the face of major perils looming over Icelandic financial institutions and the state treasury, a danger he knew of, or should have known of”.
If convicted he could face up to two years in prison.
Pictured: Geir Haarde just before his resignation as Iceland’s prime minister in January 2009. He is now being tried over his alleged role in the country’s financial collapse. Photograph: Ints Kalnins/Reuters

Iceland calls its former PM to account for financial crash

Geir Haarde, whose trial began this week, could face up to two years in jail if convicted over country’s 2008 economic collapse

On a low hill overlooking Reykjavik’s harbour the members of a small camera crew wrapped in many layers of winterwear are wrestling with the horizontal snow in an attempt to film a short comedy sketch. The set-up of the skit, one explains, involves “a bum, he lives in the park and he is trying to sell tickets at crazy high prices for the show”.

The show in question is taking place in a nearby white building, and the joke turns on the fact that, three and a half years after what is known here simply as The Crash, Icelanders have learned the hard way that you can’t, after all, value something worthless simply by naming your price, and then adding zeroes.

That’s not to say that what is taking place inside the white building – Reykjavik’s Culture House – is not, in its own way, a hot ticket.

In a smart wood-panelled former library on the first floor a special criminal court has been convened for the first time in the country’s history. Its purpose is to try the former Icelandic prime minister Geir Haarde over the spectacular economic collapse in October 2008 which catastrophically bankrupted the small island nation.

Haarde, 60, is to date the only politician anywhere in the world to face criminal charges over the financial crisis. The charges, which he denies, include “serious neglect of his duties … in the face of major perils looming over Icelandic financial institutions and the state treasury, a danger he knew of, or should have known of”.

If convicted he could face up to two years in prison.

Pictured: Geir Haarde just before his resignation as Iceland’s prime minister in January 2009. He is now being tried over his alleged role in the country’s financial collapse. Photograph: Ints Kalnins/Reuters

Filed under iceland europe economic crisis financial crisis trial

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Life term for Cambodia Khmer Rouge jailer Duch
Cambodia’s UN-backed genocide court has rejected an appeal by Khmer Rouge jailer Duch and increased his sentence to life imprisonment.
Duch, born Kaing Guek Eav, was jailed in 2010 for his role in running a notorious prison where thousands of inmates were killed.
He had appealed on the grounds that he was a junior official following orders.
But judges rejected his claim and increased his sentence from 35 years to life.
Duch - the first senior Khmer Rouge official to face charges before the court - was convicted of crimes against humanity in July 2010. He appealed against the verdict in March 2011.
The 69-year-old was the commander of Tuol Sleng prison, where at least 15,000 men, women and children deemed enemies of the regime were tortured and then executed in “killing fields” outside Phnom Penh.

Life term for Cambodia Khmer Rouge jailer Duch

Cambodia’s UN-backed genocide court has rejected an appeal by Khmer Rouge jailer Duch and increased his sentence to life imprisonment.

Duch, born Kaing Guek Eav, was jailed in 2010 for his role in running a notorious prison where thousands of inmates were killed.

He had appealed on the grounds that he was a junior official following orders.

But judges rejected his claim and increased his sentence from 35 years to life.

Duch - the first senior Khmer Rouge official to face charges before the court - was convicted of crimes against humanity in July 2010. He appealed against the verdict in March 2011.

The 69-year-old was the commander of Tuol Sleng prison, where at least 15,000 men, women and children deemed enemies of the regime were tortured and then executed in “killing fields” outside Phnom Penh.

Filed under cambodia asia trial crimes against humanity

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REPORTING FROM SAN SALVADOR — Efrain Rios Montt, the former dictator of Guatemala who oversaw one of the nation’s bloodiest periods, will stand trial on genocide charges and other crimes stemming from a 36-year civil war.
Photo: Relatives of massacre victims from the Mayan Ixil ethnic group gather in a Guatemala City courthouse on Thursday to hear charges against former dictator Efrain Rios Montt. Credit: Moises Castillo / Associated Press

REPORTING FROM SAN SALVADOR — Efrain Rios Montt, the former dictator of Guatemala who oversaw one of the nation’s bloodiest periods, will stand trial on genocide charges and other crimes stemming from a 36-year civil war.

Photo: Relatives of massacre victims from the Mayan Ixil ethnic group gather in a Guatemala City courthouse on Thursday to hear charges against former dictator Efrain Rios Montt. Credit: Moises Castillo / Associated Press

Filed under guatemala americas human rights trial