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  Court Watch - Legal News


The Dutch Supreme Court upheld Friday a lower court’s ruling that the Netherlands is partially liable in the deaths of some 350 Muslim men who were murdered by Bosnian Serb forces during the 1995 Srebrenica massacre.

The Netherlands’ highest court ruled that Dutch United Nations peacekeepers evacuated the men from their military base near Srebrenica on July 13, 1995, despite knowing that they “were in serious jeopardy of being abused and murdered” by Bosnian Serb forces.

Presiding Judge Kees Streefkerk said “the state did act wrongfully” and told relatives of the dead they can now claim compensation from the Dutch government.

“They are responsible and they will always have a stain,” Munira Subasic, one of the relatives who brought the case, said angrily of the Dutch. “We know what happened; we don’t need this court to tell us.”

The ruling upholding a 2017 appeals court judgment was the latest in a long-running legal battle by a group of relatives known as The Mothers of Srebrenica to hold the Dutch government accountable for the deaths of their family members in Europe’s worst massacre since World War II.

Dutch Defense Minister Ank Bijleveld-Schouten said the government accepted the ruling.

“We want to express again our sympathy to the relatives of the victims,” she said in a statement. “The Srebrenica genocide must never be forgotten.”

The 350 men were among 5,000 terrified Muslim residents of the Srebrenica area who took shelter in the Dutch peacekeepers’ base when the region was overrun by Bosnian Serb forces commanded by Gen. Ratko Mladic, who was convicted of genocide by a U.N. war crimes tribunal in 2017 for masterminding the massacre that left some 8,000 Muslim men and boys dead. Mladic has appealed.


The Dutch Supreme Court upheld Friday a lower court’s ruling that the Netherlands is partially liable in the deaths of some 350 Muslim men who were murdered by Bosnian Serb forces during the 1995 Srebrenica massacre.

The Netherlands’ highest court ruled that Dutch United Nations peacekeepers evacuated the men from their military base near Srebrenica on July 13, 1995, despite knowing that they “were in serious jeopardy of being abused and murdered” by Bosnian Serb forces.

Presiding Judge Kees Streefkerk said “the state did act wrongfully” and told relatives of the dead they can now claim compensation from the Dutch government.

“They are responsible and they will always have a stain,” Munira Subasic, one of the relatives who brought the case, said angrily of the Dutch. “We know what happened; we don’t need this court to tell us.”

The ruling upholding a 2017 appeals court judgment was the latest in a long-running legal battle by a group of relatives known as The Mothers of Srebrenica to hold the Dutch government accountable for the deaths of their family members in Europe’s worst massacre since World War II.

Dutch Defense Minister Ank Bijleveld-Schouten said the government accepted the ruling.

“We want to express again our sympathy to the relatives of the victims,” she said in a statement. “The Srebrenica genocide must never be forgotten.”

The 350 men were among 5,000 terrified Muslim residents of the Srebrenica area who took shelter in the Dutch peacekeepers’ base when the region was overrun by Bosnian Serb forces commanded by Gen. Ratko Mladic, who was convicted of genocide by a U.N. war crimes tribunal in 2017 for masterminding the massacre that left some 8,000 Muslim men and boys dead. Mladic has appealed.



An appeals court in Amsterdam said Tuesday it needs more time to rule on the ownership of a valuable trove of historical artefacts loaned to a Dutch museum by four museums in Crimea shortly before the region’s annexation by Russia in 2014.

The Amsterdam Court of Appeal said in an interim ruling that it needs “greater clarity” on the competing claims by Ukraine and the museums in Crimea. The court says it expects to deliver a final judgment in six to nine months.

Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea left the approximately 300 artefacts, including bronze swords, golden helmets and precious, gems in a legal limbo, as both Ukraine and the Crimean museums now controlled by Russia have demanded their return by Amsterdam’s Allard Pierson Museum.

“It is now a question of deciding who has the strongest rights; either the Crimean museums claiming a right of operational management under Ukrainian law, or the Ukrainian State claiming ownership of the Crimean treasures,” the court said.

The Dutch museum had borrowed the artifacts for an exhibition that opened a month before the annexation. It has kept them in storage pending resolution of the cultural tug-of-war and declined comment on the legal proceedings.

The court ruled that the Amsterdam museum was entitled to hold onto the artefacts “in view of the complex situation in Crimea.”

Among the objects in the exhibition are a solid gold Scythian helmet from the 4th century B.C. and a golden neck ornament from the second century A.D. that each weigh more than a kilogram (two pounds).


Financier Jeffrey Epstein will remain behind bars for now as a federal judge mulls whether to grant bail on charges he sexually abused underage girls.

The judge said he needed more time to make a decision during a hearing Monday in New York.

Federal prosecutors maintained the well-connected Epstein, 66, is a flight risk and danger to the community — saying he should remain incarcerated until he is tried on charges that he recruited and abused dozens of underage girls in New York and Florida in the early 2000s.

Prosecutors said their case is getting “stronger by the day” after several more women contacted them in recent days to say he abused them when they were underage.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Alex Rossmiller also revealed Monday that authorities found “piles of cash,” ″dozens of diamonds” and an expired passport with Epstein’s picture and a fake name during a raid of his Manhattan mansion following his July 6 arrest .

Epstein’s lawyers said he has not committed crimes since pleading guilty to soliciting a minor for prostitution charges in Florida in 2008 and that the federal government is reneging on a 12-year-old plea deal not to prosecute him. They said they planned to file a motion to dismiss the case and that Epstein should be allowed to await trial under house arrest in his $77 million Manhattan mansion, with electronic monitoring.

In a written submission Friday to U.S. District Judge Richard M. Berman, prosecutors shared new information about their investigation and why they perceive Epstein as dangerous.

They said several additional women in multiple jurisdictions had identified themselves to the government, claiming Epstein abused them when they were minors. Also, dozens of individuals have called the government to report information about Epstein and the charges he faces, prosecutors said.

Prosecutors said they believe Epstein might have tried to influence witnesses after discovering that he had paid a total of $350,000 to two individuals, including a former employee, in the last year. That came after the Miami Herald reported the circumstances of his state court conviction in 2008, which led to a 13-month jail term and his deal to avoid federal prosecution .


The Trump administration on Friday asked the Supreme Court to lift a freeze on Pentagon money it wants to use to build sections of a border wall with Mexico.

Two lower courts have ruled against the administration in a lawsuit over the funding. Last week, a divided three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco kept in place a lower court ruling preventing the government from tapping Defense Department counterdrug money to build high-priority sections of wall in Arizona, California and New Mexico.

At stake in the case is billions of dollars that would allow Trump to make progress on a major 2016 campaign promise heading into his race for a second term. Trump ended a 35-day government shutdown in February after Congress gave him approximately $1.4 billion in border wall funding, far less than the $5.7 billion he was seeking. Trump then declared a national emergency to take cash from other government accounts to use to construct sections of wall.

The money includes $3.6 billion from military construction funds, $2.5 billion from Defense Department counterdrug activities and $600 million from the Treasury Department's asset forfeiture fund. The Treasury Department funds have so far survived legal challenges, and the transfer of the military construction funds has not yet been approved.

At issue in the case before the Supreme Court is just the $2.5 billion in Defense Department funds, which the administration says will be used to construct more than 100 miles of fencing. The lawsuit challenging the use of those funds was brought by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of the Sierra Club and Southern Border Communities Coalition. Late Friday, Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan gave the groups until the afternoon of July 19 to respond in writing to the Trump administration's filing.



A court in Palermo, Sicily, ruled on Friday that the wrong Eritrean man was arrested and tried as a migrant smuggling kingpin and ordered him released from jail, to the jubilation of international supporters who had championed for years the defendant's claim of mistaken identity.

Defense lawyer Michele Calantropo told The Associated Press that his client, Medhanie Tesfamariam Behre, "cried for joy" when he heard the court order him released from jail, three years after he had been extradited to Italy from Sudan on a charge of human trafficking.

But while the court exonerated him of the trafficking charge, it convicted him of a lesser charge - aiding illegal immigration - for helping two cousins reach Italy, based on investigations conducted after Behre was extradited to Italy, Calantropo said.

The court sentenced him on that charge to five years in prison. But since Behre already spent three years behind bars under a warrant for the wrong man, it was likely under Italy's justice system, that, as a first offender, he won't have to do any more time in jail.

Prosecutors had argued the defendant was Medhane Yehdego Mered, an alleged human trafficking kingpin who profited as thousands of migrants were smuggled to Italy on unseaworthy boats launched from Libyan shores. They had asked the court to convict him and give a 14-year prison term.

They didn't immediately react to the ruling.

Even as the suspect set foot in Italy in 2016, escorted by Italian police, a chorus of doubts rose up about whether prosecutors actually had the man they claimed.

One of the defendant's sisters, who lives in Norway, said her brother was living a "normal" life in Sudan and had nothing to do with human smuggling. She said she recognized her brother in the images of the man being extradited to Italy.


President Donald Trump says he is “very seriously” considering an executive order to get a citizenship question on the 2020 Census.

The Justice Department says it will continue to search for legal grounds to force the inclusion of the question.

Trump says his administration is exploring a number of legal options, but the Justice Department has not said exactly what options remain now that the Supreme Court has barred the question, at least temporarily.

The government has already begun the process of printing the census questionnaire without that question.

The administration’s focus on asking broadly about citizenship for the first time since 1950 reflects the enormous political stakes and potential costs in the once-a-decade population count. The Justice Department says it will continue to look for legal grounds to force the inclusion of a citizenship question on the 2020 Census.

But the department says it’s unclear how that will happen.

That’s according to a lawyer for the plaintiffs who took part in a conference call Friday with government lawyers and a federal judge who demanded clarification of the administration’s plans. President Donald Trump had reopened what appeared to be a final decision by his administration to proceed without the citizenship question on the next census.

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