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International brief ~ Second key witness admits to perjury in Besigye trial

[JURIST] Leading Wednesday's international brief, Uganda's second key witness in the treason case against opposition leader Kizza Besigye [JURIST news archive; BBC profile] has admitted to perjury under cross-examination by Besigye's lawyers. Migadde Ssemakula, who claims he is a lieutenant with Uganda's intelligence gathering Internal Security Organization (ISO), admitted that facts he testified to concerning alleged meetings between Besigye and revolutionaries were fabricated. After being confronted with the copy of a report he filed, which was later lost by the prosecution [JURIST report], Migadde admitted that he had lied about the number of meetings he attended between key participants and said that reports fail to mention the many meetings he claims to have had with resistance fighters on Besigye's behalf. Migadde also failed to provide the court with any documentation proving he was still employed by the ISO and admitted that he had no paperwork that he could produce to prove his alleged rank or position. Besigye's lawyers have decimated much of the prosecution's case by exposing perjured witnesses [JURIST report], lost documents, and sloppy government filing [JURIST report]. Uganda's Daily Monitor has local coverage.

In other international legal news ...

  • Bagir Manan, Indonesia's top jurist, was re-elected as the head of the Indonesian Supreme Court [official website, in Indonesian] on Tuesday, garnering 93 percent of the votes from Indonesian judges. Bagir was scheduled for mandatory retirement this year at the age of 65, as all judges in Indonesia are, but he moved the retirement age back to 67 last year. Members of the judiciary in Indonesia [JURIST news archive] claim the election shows trust in Bagir as a chief justice capable of controlling the supreme court, but civil rights groups argue that Bagir's popularity in an overwhelmingly corrupt judicial system merely demonstrates that corrupt judges are comfortable with Bagir's lack of enthusiasm for judicial reform. Bagir told reporters that a new election would be held in 2008, instead of 2010, as he intended to retire in two years when he reaches the new maximum age limit. The Jakarta Post has local coverage.

  • The French National Assembly [official website] is considering whether to approve a draft immigration law [JURIST document] that would tighten restrictions on those seeking entry to France for employment opportunities. The bill proposes to raise the minimum qualifications for individuals seeking residency permits, require language skills in French, require cultural education classes, and limit the number of dependents successful immigrants may bring with them. Civic groups have protested the bill [JURIST report] and claim that French Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy [official profile in French], the presenter of the bill, is riding a wave of racism and paranoia in the country as he seeks election as the French prime minister. BBC News has more.

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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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