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Trump arrives in federal court in Florida for classified docs case
Court Issues | 2024/02/13 18:06
Former President Donald Trump arrived Monday morning at a federal courthouse in Florida for a closed hearing in his criminal case charging him with mishandling classified documents.

The hearing was scheduled to discuss the procedures for the handling of classified evidence in the case, which is currently set for trial on May 20. Trump faces dozens of felony counts accusing him of hoarding highly classified records at his Mar-a-Lago estate and obstructing FBI efforts to get them back.

U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon expects to hear arguments in the morning from defense lawyers and in the afternoon from prosecutors, each outside of the other’s presence.

“Defense counsel shall be prepared to discuss their defense theories of the case, in detail, and how any classified information might be relevant or helpful to the defense,” Cannon wrote in scheduling the hearing.

Trump’s motorcade arrived at the courthouse in Fort Pierce shortly after 9 a.m.

The hearing is one of several voluntary court appearances that Trump has made in recent weeks — he was present, for instance, at appeals court arguments last month in Washington — as he looks to demonstrate to supporters that he intends to fight the four criminal prosecutions he faces while also seeking to reclaim the White House this November.


Samsung chief is acquitted of financial crimes related to 2015 merger
Court Issues | 2024/02/05 20:40
A South Korean court on Monday acquitted Samsung Electronics Chairman Lee Jae-yong of financial crimes involving a contentious merger between Samsung affiliates in 2015 that tightened his grip over South Korea’s biggest company.

The ruling by the Seoul Central District Court could ease the legal troubles surrounding the Samsung heir less than two years after he was pardoned of a separate conviction of bribery in a corruption scandal that helped topple a previous South Korean government.

The court said the prosecution failed to sufficiently prove the merger between Samsung C&T and Cheil Industries was unlawfully conducted with an aim to strengthen Lee’s control over Samsung Electronics.

The ruling was criticized by activists, progressive politicians and commentators, who questioned how Lee could be innocent of all charges when he had previously been convicted in the separate case of bribing a former president while seeking government support for the merger. The People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy, South Korea’s biggest civic group, said the court failed to display “even a minimal level of social justice” by putting Lee’s interests before those of shareholders and pensioners, whose retirement funds were possibly reduced by the deal, which was endorsed by the National Pension Service.

It described the ruling as a setback for years of efforts to reform the management culture of South Korea’s family-owned conglomerates and their cozy ties with the government. South Korean corporate leaders often receive relatively lenient punishments for corruption, business irregularities and other crimes, with judges often citing concerns over the country’s economy.

Prosecutors had sought a five-year jail term for Lee, who was accused of stock price manipulation and accounting fraud. It wasn’t immediately clear whether they would appeal. Lee denied wrongdoing in the current case, describing the 2015 merger as “normal business activity.”

Lee, 55, did not answer questions from reporters as he left the court. You Jin Kim, Lee’s lawyer, praised the ruling, saying it confirmed that the merger was legal.

Lee, a third-generation corporate heir who was officially appointed chairman of Samsung Electronics in October 2022, has led the Samsung group of companies since 2014, when his late father, former chairman Lee Kun-hee, suffered a heart attack.

Lee Jae-yong served 18 months in prison after being convicted in 2017 over separate bribery charges related to the 2015 deal. He was originally sentenced to five years in prison for offering 8.6 billion won ($6.4 million) worth of bribes to then-President Park Geun-hye and her close confidante to win government support for the 2015 merger, which was key to strengthening his control over the Samsung business empire and solidifying the father-to-son leadership succession.

Park and her confidante were also convicted in the scandal, and enraged South Koreans staged massive protests for months demanding an end to shady ties between business and politics. The demonstrations eventually led to Park’s ouster from office.

Lee was released on parole in 2021 and pardoned by South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol in August 2022, in moves that extended a history of leniency toward major white-collar crime in South Korea and preferential treatment for convicted tycoons.

Some shareholders had opposed the 2015 merger, saying it unfairly benefited the Lee family while hurting minority shareholders.


India court restores life prison sentences for 11 Hindu men
Court Issues | 2024/01/08 23:09
India’s top court on Monday restored life prison sentences for 11 Hindu men who raped a Muslim woman during deadly religious rioting two decades ago and asked the convicts to surrender to the authorities within two weeks.

The Hindu men were convicted in 2008 of rape and murder. They were released in 2022 after serving 14 years in prison.

The victim, who is now in her 40s, was pregnant when she was brutally gang-raped in 2002 in western Gujarat state during communal rioting that was some of India’s worst religious violence with over 1,000 people, mostly Muslims, killed.

Seven members of the woman’s family, including her 3-year-old daughter, were killed during the riots. The Associated Press generally doesn’t identify victims of sexual assault.

The men were eligible for remission of their sentence under a policy that was in place at the time of their convictions. At the time of their release, officials in Gujarat, where Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party holds power, had said the convicts were granted remission because they had completed over 14 years in jail.

A revised policy adopted in 2014 by the federal government prohibits remission release for those convicted of certain crimes, including rape and murder.

Following the release of the convicts, the victim had filed a petition with the Supreme Court, saying “the en masse premature release of the convicts… has shaken the conscience of the society.”

The 2002 riots have long hounded Modi, who was Gujarat’s top elected official at the time, amid allegations that authorities allowed and even encouraged the bloodshed. Modi has repeatedly denied having any role and the Supreme Court has said it found no evidence to prosecute him.


Mexico’s Supreme Court lifts 2022 ban on bullfighting
Court Issues | 2023/12/07 18:37
Mexico’s Supreme Court on Wednesday overturned a 2022 ban on bullfighting in Mexico City, opening the way for events to resume.

A panel of five justices voted to overturn a May 2022 injunction that said bullfights violated city resident’s rights to a healthy environment free from violence.

The justices did not explain their arguments for overturning the ban, but bullfight organizers claimed it violated their right to continue the tradition. The capital had a history of almost 500 years of bullfighting, but there had been no fights since the 2022 injunction.

A crowd of people gathered outside the Supreme Court building Wednesday, holding up signs reading “Bulls Yes, Bullfighters No!” and “Mexico says no to bullfights.”

Critics say the fights inherently represent cruelty to animals.

“Animals are not things, they are living beings with feelings, and these living, feeling beings deserve protection under the constitution of Mexico City,” said city councilman Jorge Gaviño, who has tried three times to pass legislation for a permanent ban. None has passed.

Bullfight organizers say it is a question of rights.

“This is not an animal welfare issue. This is an issue of freedoms, and how justice is applied to the rest of the public,” said José Saborit, the director of the Mexican Association of Bullfighting. “A small sector of the population wants to impose its moral outlook, and I think there is room for all of us in this world, in a regulated way.”

Since 2013, several of Mexico’s 32 states have banned bullfights. Brazil, Argentina, Chile and Uruguay have banned bullfighting.

According to historians, Spanish conqueror Hernán Cortés watched some of the first bullfights in the city in the 1520s, soon after his 1521 Conquest of the Aztec capital.


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