Tag Archives: Judicial Process / Court Cases / Court Decisions

Italian prosecutors are demanding life sentences for US students accused of murdering police | Instant News

ROME (Reuters) – An Italian prosecutor on Saturday demanded life sentences for two young Americans being tried on murder charges after a policeman was killed following a failed drug sale in Rome.

Finnegan Lee Elder, then 19, admitted to stabbing Mario Cerciello Rega in the early hours of July 26, 2019, while his friend Gabriel Christian Natale-Hjorth, then 18, was wrestling with another police officer.

Under Italian law, anyone who participates even indirectly in murder can face charges of murder.

Prosecutor Maria Sabina Calabretta said in her four-hour indictment that the attack on police was “disproportionate” and carried out with “the purpose of murder”.

The two Americans, both from California, said they had no idea that Cerciello or his partner, Andrea Varriale, were police officers, telling the court that neither of the men had identified themselves.

Varriale denied this, testifying that they had shown their badges to their two attackers. The Cerciello badge was not found at the crime scene.

Elder and Natale-Hjorth were on vacation in Rome at the time and were trying to buy medicine from a local dealer. They had told the court they were duped, but managed to snatch the bag from the middleman when he tried to run away.

They then agree to meet with the dealer again to get their money back in exchange for a bag, but the two cops show up. There were no men in uniform and the Elder had testified that they immediately attacked them, forcing him and Natale-Hjorth to defend themselves.

“I panicked and believed he wanted to kill me,” Italian media quoted Elder in court earlier this month as saying.

Police said Cerciello, 35, was unarmed at the time and stabbed 11 times by Elder with an 18 cm (7 inch) knife.

Italian media reported that the dealer was an informant who reported the theft of the bag, asking the police to step in.

In a court hearing last September, Elder apologized for the murder.

Natale-Hjorth initially told police he was not involved in the murder and did not know his friend had a knife. However, his fingerprints were found on a panel on the ceiling of the hotel room where the knife was hidden.

Attorneys for Elder and Natale-Hjorth have not yet filed their defense. A verdict at the trial is expected in April, legal sources said.

Additional reporting by Domenico Lusi and Giselda Vagnoni; Edited by Catherine Evans and Helen Popper


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Germany’s first far-right AfD party has been watched since the Nazi era | Instant News

BERLIN (Reuters) – Germany’s BfV domestic intelligence agency has officially put the far-right Alternative to Germany (AfD) under scrutiny on suspicion of trying to undermine Germany’s democratic constitution, said someone briefed on the move on Wednesday.

FILE PHOTO: Bjoern Hoecke (center) congratulating Andre Poggenburg from the anti-immigration Alternative for Germany (AfD) party as Andreas Kalbitz (right) applauds after the first local elections in Magdeburg, Germany, March 13, 2016. REUTERS / Wolfgang Rattay / Photo files

After four years ago becoming the first professed anti-immigrant party to enter the German parliament, the AfD is now the first party to have been monitored in this way since the Nazi era ended in 1945.

It was pushed into the Bundestag in 2017 by voters angered by Chancellor Angela Merkel’s decision to welcome more than a million migrants. But it has been ostracized by others, who say its rhetoric is contributing to an atmosphere of hatred that encourages violence against immigrants.

BfV’s move follows a two-year review of the AfD political platform, and will allow the agency to eavesdrop on calls and conversations involving AfD members and check party funding.

A BfV spokesman declined to comment, citing the court case brought by the AfD, but the party was furious.

The agenda is clear. First we made a ‘case to investigate’, now we are a ‘suspected case’ and under surveillance – and at some point there will be a request to ban our party, ”said Alexander Gauland, leader of the AfD parliamentary floor. “Alhamdulillah, that is the decision of the Constitutional Court and not BfV.”

Gauland and AfD co-leader Tino Chrupalla told a press conference that they only knew about the decision, which was first reported by Der Spiegel magazine, from media reports. They accuse BfV of trying to spoil their chances in September’s national elections.


The Jewish Central Council in Germany welcomed the decision, saying: “The AfD’s destructive politics undermines our democratic institutions and discredits democracy among citizens.”

The AfD registered 12.6% support in the 2017 federal election to become the third-largest party in the Bundestag, and also has members of parliament in all 16 regional assemblies.

But his support has fallen to around 9% in a recent survey, influenced by his contention and opposition to lockdown measures to stem the coronavirus pandemic.

One of its deputy leaders, Joerg Meuthen, has opened the rift on the grounds that the AfD needs to expel members suspected of sympathizing with violent far-right groups to expand its appeal.

The AfD has also secured a court ruling barring BfV from publicly calling it a “case under investigation” as this puts it at a disadvantage in the election. However, an offer to stop the BfV review is still in court.

BfV told the Administrative Court in Cologne last month that it would not monitor AfD lawmakers in national, regional or European parliaments while the case was being heard.

This suggests that formal oversight will now be limited to lower-level party members.

Four years ago, the German government failed to ban the neo-Nazi National Democratic Party (NPD), which has won several seats in several state assemblies. The Constitutional Court ruled that, although similar to Adolf Hitler’s Nazi party, it was too weak to endanger democracy.

Written by Joseph Nasr; Edited by Kevin Liffey


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Brazil’s high court order investigates Facebook’s sale of Amazon land | Instant News

RIO DE JANEIRO, March 2 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – The highest B razil court on Tuesday ordered an investigation into how a plot of land stolen in the Amazon rainforest inhabited by indigenous tribes was sold on Facebook.

Supreme Court Judge Luis Roberto Barroso responded to a lawsuit filed by charities and opposition parties accusing the Brazilian government of failing to protect indigenous peoples from the coronavirus.

In his decision, he said some areas advertised for sale on Marketplace, Facebook’s secret ad space, belonged to the Uru-Eu-Wau-Wau people, who had been infected by illegal land grabbers and left in a “critical situation”.

A classified investigation by the BBC last month found dozens of plots of land in the Amazon occupied by indigenous groups advertised on the site. Many have been cleared.

Facebook did not immediately reply to a request for comment. Last week the technology company told the BBC it was “ready to work with local authorities” on this issue.

“The decision is based on last week’s broadcast of a documentary by BBC News, which condemns the use of Facebook for advertising and marketing the Amazon land,” the Supreme Court said in a statement.

Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon spiked to a 12-year high in 2020, according to government data published in November.

Environmental activists say Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has undermined conservation efforts and raised hopes that the new law will legalize land grabbers’ claims.

“Invasion and land grabbing only occurs because of impunity,” said Ivaneide Bandeira, of the Association of Ethno-Environmental Protection Kaninde, a non-profit organization that helps Uru-Eu-Wau-Wau.

“So this decision from Barroso gives us hope that something will change, that the law will work.”

Barroso said the investigation should not be limited to the Uru-Eu-Wau-Wau area, but should also cover “all other customary lands”.


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Australian youth lead class action against expanding the Whitehaven coal mine | Instant News

MELBOURNE (Reuters) – A class lawsuit against a coal mine extension that begins on Tuesday could complicate the approval of coal mines in Australia on the basis of intergenerational fairness and climate change, if claimants prove successful.

The landmark claim, by a group of eight teenagers from across Australia, began Tuesday in Melbourne Federal Court and is expected to last five days, but decisions may not be made for several months.

Students think that Australian Environment Minister Susan Ley has a duty to protect them from climate change and that the expansion of the Vickery Whitehaven Coal coal mine in the state of New South Wales will contribute to climate change and jeopardize their future.

“In the community, there is hope that a large coal mine like this is approved at the federal level and that is why we are concerned,” said principal David Barnden of Equity Generation Lawyers.

“It’s about emissions and contributions to climate change, and the dangers for people who are still children today.”

Ley’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Reuters, but he told local media he was unable to comment while the court case was ongoing.

Vickery’s open pit coal mine will produce most of the metallurgical coal for steelmaking as well as some of the higher grade thermal coal and is awaiting final ministerial approval.

This will create 450 sustainable jobs over the course of the operation at a net economic benefit of A $ 1.2 billion ($ 930 million) in the country, Whitehaven estimates.

“Our position with regard to litigation … is that legal claims have no merit and should be dismissed,” said Managing Director and CEO Paul Flynn in a statement.

“As the Australian economy begins to recover from the impact of COVID-19, it is imperative that large job-generating investments in the economy are not delayed by legal claims that have no substance.”

Coal is Australia’s second most valuable resource export, valued at about A $ 37 billion in the financial year to June, government figures show.

Climate change has become a divisive topic in Australia, one of the world’s largest emitters of per capita carbon. The country’s conservative government has won successive elections on a platform of supporting Australia’s dominant fossil fuel sector.

($ 1 = 1.2902 Australian dollars)

Reporting by Melanie Burton; Edited by Jacqueline Wong


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