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Turkish protesters on Monday demanded the death penalty, abolished in Turkey more than a decade ago, for 18 alleged coup plotters on trial for the killing of a military officer who resisted an effort to overthrow the government.

The demonstrators jeered as security forces escorted the defendants into a courthouse in the Turkish capital, Ankara. The crowd also displayed an effigy of Fethullah Gulen, an Islamic cleric based in Pennsylvania who is blamed by Turkey for the failed coup attempt on July 15. The effigy had a noose around its neck. Gulen has denied involvement in the uprising.

Turkey abolished the death penalty as a campaign to join the European Union gained momentum, but President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said since the coup attempt that Turkey could hold a referendum on reinstating it if parliament fails to pass such a measure. European leaders say any talks on Turkey's bid to join the EU, which faltered years ago, would end if Ankara restores the death penalty.

Relations reached a new low this month because of Turkey's anger over the refusal of some European countries to let Turkish Cabinet ministers campaign for diaspora votes ahead of an April 16 constitutional referendum on increasing the powers of the Turkish president. Supporters of the measure say a more centralized leadership would help Turkey deal with security, economic and other challenges; critics say its approval would fit a pattern of increasingly authoritarian behavior by Erdogan.

The suspects who appeared in court in Ankara are accused of involvement in the shooting of Omer Halisdemir, an officer who was killed after he shot dead Semih Terzi, a renegade military commander who allegedly tried to take over the special forces headquarters in the capital during last year's uprising by some military units.

Suspect Ahmet Kara, who was Terzi's military aide, testified last month that he was duped into participating in the rogue operation without understanding that it was an attempt to overthrow the government. The defendants, whose trial began in February, face life imprisonment if convicted of murder and other crimes.



The convictions of a prominent defense attorney and his associates were among the country's top legal achievements last year, China's chief justice said Sunday, highlighting a case that has been criticized by Western governments and rights groups.

In a report to the national legislature, Zhou Qiang also said that China, which is believed to execute more people than the rest of the world combined, gave the death penalty "to an extremely small number of criminals for extremely serious offenses" in the past 10 years.

The actual number of executions in China is a state secret. A 2007 decision that all death sentences must be reviewed by the Supreme People's Court is believed to have reduced the number of executions dramatically.

Zhou praised courts for severely punishing crimes against state security and violent terrorism, and said the trend will continue in order "to resolutely safeguard the country's political security."

The only case of subverting state power he highlighted was that of Zhou Shifeng, director of a law firm that used to be one of the country's best-known advocates for human rights. He was sentenced to seven years' imprisonment in August for attempting to manipulate public opinion and harm national security.

Rights groups and Western governments including the U.S. had urged China to release Zhou and other activists and lawyers detained in a sweeping crackdown that began in 2015. Critics say it's about the ruling Communist Party silencing opponents.

The chief justice's report didn't say how many people were prosecuted or convicted of such offences, or how many cases were handled.

Hundreds of people have been killed in recent years in attacks in the northwestern Xinjiang region, which Beijing blames on Islamic militants and separatists from the Uighur minority. Activists say repressive government policies have exacerbated tensions and radicalized local youth.


South Korea's Constitutional Court removed impeached President Park Geun-hye from office in a unanimous ruling Friday over a corruption scandal that has plunged the country into political turmoil and worsened an already-serious national divide.

The decision capped a stunning fall for the country's first female leader, who rode a wave of lingering conservative nostalgia for her late dictator father to victory in 2012, only to see her presidency crumble as millions of furious protesters filled the nation's streets.

Two people died during protests that followed the ruling. Police and hospital officials said about 30 protesters and police officers were injured in the violent clashes near the court, which prompted Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn, the country's acting head of state, to plead for peace and urge Park's angry supporters to move on.

The ruling allows possible criminal proceedings against the 65-year-old Park - prosecutors have already named her a criminal suspect - and makes her South Korea's first democratically elected leader to be removed from office since democracy replaced dictatorship in the late 1980s.

It also deepens South Korea's political and security uncertainty as the country faces existential threats from North Korea, reported economic retaliation from a China furious about Seoul's cooperation with the U.S. on an anti-missile system, and questions in Seoul about the new Trump administration's commitment to the countries' security alliance.

Park's "acts of violating the constitution and law are a betrayal of the public trust," acting Chief Justice Lee Jung-mi said. "The benefits of protecting the constitution that can be earned by dismissing the defendant are overwhelmingly big. Hereupon, in a unanimous decision by the court panel, we issue a verdict: We dismiss the defendant, President Park Geun-hye."

Lee accused Park of colluding with longtime confidante Choi Soon-sil to extort tens of millions of dollars from businesses and letting Choi, a private citizen, meddle in state affairs and receive and look at documents with state secrets. Those allegations were previously made by prosecutors, but Park has refused to undergo any questioning, citing a law that gives a sitting leader immunity from prosecution.



South Africa's withdrawal from the International Criminal Court has been revoked, the United Nations secretary-general says, stalling what would have been the first-ever departure from the tribunal that pursues the world's worst atrocities.

A notice dated Tuesday on the U.N. treaty website says the move comes after a South African court ruled last month that the country's decision to withdraw without parliament's approval was unconstitutional.

South Africa shocked the international community last year when it informed the U.N. chief it would withdraw from the court that pursues cases of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. Withdrawal comes a year after notification.

South Africa had been on track to be the first country to leave the tribunal, which is based in The Hague, Netherlands, and has more than 120 member states.

South Africa's main opposition party challenged the withdrawal in court, saying it was illegal because parliament was not consulted. "South Africa does not want to be lumped together with pariah states who have no respect for human rights," the Democratic Alliance said after the court decision.

It was not clear whether South Africa would challenge the court's decision or continue to pursue an ICC withdrawal with the approval of parliament, where the ruling African National Congress party has a majority and likely would support it.

Three African countries last year made moves to leave the ICC, speaking fears of an African exodus. Only Burundi remains on a path to withdrawal. Gambia under new President Adama Barrow also has revoked its withdrawal.



A decision by Bosnia's Muslim leader to revive a wartime genocide lawsuit against Serbia at the United Nations' top court has rekindled divisions that led to the 1992-95 war, the top leaders of Serbia and Bosnian Serbs warned on Wednesday.

The bid to appeal a 2007 ruling by the International Court of Justice that cleared Serbia of committing genocide in Bosnia, also dealt a major blow to postwar reconciliation and Bosnia's survival as a multi-ethnic state, Serb officials said.

"Our relations have been pushed backward 25 or 22 years," Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic said. "The little trust we built over the years ... is now gone."

Bakir Izetbegovic, the Muslim Bosniak member of Bosnia's tripartite presidency, has initiated the appeal despite a lack of consent from his Croat and Serb counterparts in the presidency.

"Izetbegovic closed the door for Bosnia and its perspective and switched the lights off," said Milorad Dodik, the president of Republika Srpska, the Serb mini-state within Bosnia.

Bosnian Serb leaders have threatened to walk out of joint Bosnian institutions in protest, which would further fuel tensions in the fragile, ethnically divided state.



India's top court on Tuesday upheld the corruption conviction of the head of the ruling party in Tamil Nadu state, ending her chances of becoming the southern state's next chief minister.

The Supreme Court set aside a lower court order that had cleared Sasikala Natarajan of corruption charges.

India's politics are often dominated by outsized personalities and their friends and relatives, creating an environment where corruption is endemic.

Sasikala was the personal assistant to Jayaram Jayalalitha, a former movie star who became Tamil Nadu's top politician, or chief minister. Jayalalitha died in office in December triggering a succession battle within her AIADMK party.

Jayalalitha inspired intense loyalty among her political supporters who called her "Mother." Some of that charisma rubbed off on Sasikala, who was hailed as "Little Mother."

The corruption case, filed in 1996, accused Jayalalitha, Sasikala and two of Sasikala's kin of possessing assets disproportionate to their known sources of income. It was moved to neighboring Karnataka state due to fairness concerns, and the defendants were found guilty in 2014, but nine months later, were acquitted by the Karnataka high court following an appeal. That decision was challenged in the Supreme Court.

Jayalalitha died before the top court could give its decision, but on Tuesday, the judges ordered Sasikala and the two remaining co-defendants to complete their four-year jail terms.

The conviction means Sasikala is barred from contesting an election for six years after completing her jail sentence, thus removing her from the political scene for the next 10 years.



A Russian court on Wednesday found opposition leader Alexei Navalny guilty in the retrial of a 2013 fraud case, which formally disqualifies him as a candidate for president next year.

However, the first time Navalny was convicted, his sentence was suspended and he was allowed to be a candidate for mayor of Moscow. An associate said Navalny will carry on with the presidential campaign he announced in December.

In a webcast hearing in Kirov, a city nearly 800 kilometers (500 miles) east of Moscow, Judge Alexei Vtyurin found Navalny guilty of embezzling timber worth 16 million rubles ($270,000) and gave him a five-year suspended sentence. The previous guilty verdict was overturned by the European Court of Human Rights which ruled that Russia violated Navalny's right to a fair trial.

During a break in the proceedings, Navalny told reporters that he and his lawyers were comparing this verdict with the text of the 2013 verdict and found them to be identical.

"You can come over and see that the judge is reading exactly the same text, which says a lot about the whole trial," Navalny told reporters, adding that even the typos in the names of companies were identical in both rulings.

Navalny, the driving force behind massive anti-government protests in Moscow 2011 and 2012, had announced plans to run for office in December and had begun to raise funds.

Navalny's campaign manager, Leonid Volkov, insisted that the campaign goes on even though the guilty verdict formally bars Navalny from running.


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