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Zimbabwe court to rule Friday on opposition's vote challenge
Legal Focuses | 2018/08/24 10:15

Zimbabwe's Constitutional Court said it will rule on Friday after hearing the main opposition party's challenge to the results of last month's presidential election, the first without longtime leader Robert Mugabe on the ballot.

Police barricaded streets in the capital, Harare, on Wednesday amid high tensions over the case which will decide if the victory of President Emmerson Mnangagwa, a former Mugabe enforcer, is valid. The opposition claims "gross mathematical errors" and seeks a fresh election or a declaration that its candidate, 40-year-old Nelson Chamisa, won.

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission declared Mnangagwa narrowly won with 50.8 percent of the vote, avoiding a runoff. It said Chamisa received 44.3 percent.

Many hoped the peaceful vote on July 30 would launch a new era for Zimbabwe after Mugabe stepped down in November under military pressure, but two days later six people were killed when troops swept into the capital to disperse opposition protesters.

Western election observers and diplomats condemned the "excessive" use of force. European Union election observers were in court on Wednesday; the 75-year-old Mnangagwa badly needs a credible electoral process as a key step in removing international sanctions.

The opposition claims the electoral commission bumped up Mnangagwa's figures through double counts and the creation of "ghost" polling stations. It also alleges that some polling stations recorded more voters than those registered.


German court rules in broadcaster Nazi camp spat with Poland
Legal Focuses | 2018/08/22 08:08

A German court has ruled that public broadcaster ZDF can’t be forced to post a specifically worded apology demanded by a Polish court for erroneously calling two World War II Nazi camps “Polish death camps.”

ZDF used that wording in reference to the Majdanek and Auschwitz death camps in advertising a 2013 documentary. After the Polish Embassy in Berlin objected, it changed the text to “German death camps on Polish territory.”

A Polish citizen who was a former inmate of Auschwitz and the Flossenbuerg concentration camp then launched a legal battle with ZDF, which twice apologized to him for the initial error and later published an apology.

In 2016, the plaintiff secured a ruling from a court in Krakow, Poland, ordering ZDF to post on its website for one month an apology stating that the original wording was “an incorrect formulation that distorts the history of the Polish people.” The broadcaster did publish the text from Dec. 2016 to Jan. 2017, but the plaintiff considered its compliance unsatisfactory and sought to have the Polish ruling legally enforced.

Lower German courts ruled that the verdict can be enforced in Germany. But the Federal Court of Justice said that it disagreed because the required formulation would violate the broadcaster’s right to freedom of opinion.


Zimbabwe's opposition challenges election results in court
Legal Focuses | 2018/08/13 23:46

Zimbabwe's main opposition party on Friday filed a legal challenge to the results of the country's first election without Robert Mugabe on the ballot, alleging "gross mathematical errors" and calling for a fresh vote or a declaration that their candidate Nelson Chamisa was the winner.

The filing brings more uncertainty to a country that had hoped the peaceful vote would begin a new era but has been rocked since then by scenes of military in the streets and opposition supporters harassed and beaten.

The court now has 14 days to rule, and Justice Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi said the inauguration, once planned for Sunday for President Emmerson Mnangagwa, is "on hold' until then.

Zimbabwe's main opposition party on Friday filed a legal challenge to the results of the country's first election without Robert Mugabe on the ballot, alleging "gross mathematical errors" and calling for a fresh vote or a declaration that their candidate Nelson Chamisa was the winner.

The filing brings more uncertainty to a country that had hoped the peaceful vote would begin a new era but has been rocked since then by scenes of military in the streets and opposition supporters harassed and beaten.

The court now has 14 days to rule, and Justice Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi said the inauguration, once planned for Sunday for President Emmerson Mnangagwa, is "on hold' until then.



Child remains found at New Mexico compound, man due in court
Legal Focuses | 2018/08/08 10:48

For months, neighbors worried about a squalid compound built along a remote New Mexico plain, saying they brought their concerns to authorities long before sheriff's officials first found 11 hungry children on the lot, and then the remains of a small boy.

Two men and three women also had been living at the compound, and were arrested following a raid Friday that came as officials searched for a missing Georgia boy with severe medical issues.

Medical examiners still must confirm whether the body found at the property in a second search on Monday is that of Abdul-ghani Wahhaj, who was 3 in December when police say his father took him from his mother in Jonesboro, Georgia.

The boy's father, Siraj Ibn Wahhaj, was among those arrested in the compound raid that has since resulted in the series of startling revelations on the outskirts of Amalia, a tiny town near the Colorado state line marked by scattered homes and sagebrush. Authorities said they found the father armed with multiple firearms, including an assault rifle.

Siraj Ibn Wahhaj was scheduled to appear in court Wednesday on a warrant from Georgia that seeks his extradition to face a charge of abducting his son from that state last December. He had expressed wanting to perform an exorcism on his son, the warrant said.

The group arrived in Amalia in December, with enough money to buy groceries and construction supplies, according to Tyler Anderson, a 41-year-old auto mechanic who lives nearby.

He said Tuesday he helped the newcomers install solar panels after they arrived but eventually stopped visiting.


Court: Ban seafood caught with nets that harm tiny porpoises
Legal Focuses | 2018/07/28 23:37

A judge has ordered the U.S. government to ban imports of seafood caught by Mexican fisheries that use a net blamed for killing off the vaquita, the world's smallest and most-endangered porpoise.

Judge Gary Katzmann, of The U.S. Court of International Trade, on Thursday granted a motion after three environmental groups filed a lawsuit seeking a ban on seafood caught with gillnets in part of the Gulf of California, where the vaquita live.

Some scientists estimate that there could be as few as 15 of the vaquita — Spanish for "little cow" — left. The court noted that experts believe they could be extinct by 2021 without intervention.

Their numbers have been severely reduced illegal fishing and by the gillnets, which are used to catch a variety of shrimp and fish.

The nets are hung in the water to catch seafood. The Mexican government has banned their use in some areas and for some species, but allows it for other species.

There also is illegal fishing in the vaquitas habitat for the Mexican totoaba fish, which goes for high prices because its swim bladder is considered a delicacy in China and reputed to boost fertility.

The Justice Department, which had opposed the ban, did not immediately answer an email seeking comment.

The groups that filed the suit are the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Center for Biological Diversity and the Animal Welfare Institute.


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