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International brief ~ Lawyers begin arguments in Nepal corruption case against former PM

[JURIST] Leading Thursday's international brief, government lawyers for the Royal Commission for Corruption Control have begun arguments before the commission in the case against former Nepalese Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba [Wikipedia profile], former Foreign Minister Prakash Man Singh and other charged by the government [JURIST report] of embezzling public funds from the Melamchi Drinking Water Project. The alleged embezzlement was one of the reasons given by King Gyanendra [official profile] for the 1 February declaration of a state of emergency [JURIST report] that was used to dissolve the democratically-elected government. Gyanendra subsequently created the RCCC [JURIST report] to investigate corruption among government officials and gave the commission power to charge, try, and sentence individuals it investigates. Deuba has twice refused to testify [JURIST report] before the commission, claiming that the charges brought against him are politically motivated. JURIST's Paper Chase has continuing coverage of Nepal [JURIST news archive]. Kantipur Online has local coverage.

In related news, the government of Nepal [government website] released at least a dozen political detainees Thursday and is likely to release roughly the same number Friday according to government sources. Among those released Thursday were Nepali Congress [advocacy website] General Secretary Sushil Koirala, former minister Shivaraj Joshi, and Dr Arun Koirala. Opponents to dissolution of the Nepalese democratic government by King Gyanendra [official profile] have been regularly arrested and detained without charge in the months since 1 February. The Nepal Supreme Court [official website] has frequently ruled in favor of these detainees and has ordered the government to release them. Many of the individuals are later rearrested however for subsequent offenses. JURIST's Paper Chase has continuing coverage of Nepal [JURIST news archive]. Kantipur Online has local coverage.

In other international legal news ...

  • Zimbabwean police made another 7,000 arrests Wednesday and Thursday in the continuing national crack-down on illegal merchants and traders. The arrests were made in the centrally located city of Gweru [official website], where the black market thrives due to the rich deposits of gold in the region. In response to the worsening economic crisis in Zimbabwe [government website], tens of thousands have moved to the region to try their luck hunting for gold. The illegal traders and merchants have been profiting immensely by selling much needed supplies to these gold-seekers. Some of those arrested have paid fines, while others have been taken to jail. In response to unrest sparked by the arrests in the capital city of Harare [JURIST report], Zimbabwean police have deployed nearly 1,000 extra officers there to prevent any full-scale riots. Harare city officials are currently being sued [JURIST report] by the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights [Zim Human Rights Forum backgrounder], the largest NGO in Zimbabwe, for allegedly violating the rights of the shopkeepers they are arresting. JURIST's Paper Chase has continuing coverage of Zimbabwe [JURIST news archive]. BBC News has more.

  • A High Court judge in Mombasa [official website], Kenya [government website] ruled on the detention of 63 Bangladesh nationals Wednesday, ordering their release subject to bail restrictions. The 63 individuals, arrested 13 May, are merchant seamen currently being investigated by police officials for alleged involvement with drug trafficking and terrorist activities. High Court Justice John Mwera ruled that the police had violated the suspects rights by holding them for more than 24 hours without charging them with a crime, as required by the Kenyan Constitution [official text]. The bail restrictions set by Mwera are difficult however and unlikely to be met, meaning the 63 individuals will remain in police custody for ten more days, subsequent to the offer of the prosecution that ten days were needed for police to finish their investigation. Wamuti Ndegwa, counsel for many of the suspects, has also filed a request for a judicial review hearing before the Kenyan courts. The East African Standard has local coverage.

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Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

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