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Lawmakers in Greece are set to limit the powers of Islamic courts operating in a border region that is home to a 100,000-strong Muslim minority.

Backed by parliament's largest political parties, the draft law is set to be voted on later Tuesday. The proposal aims to scrap rules dating back more than 90 years ago and which refer many civil cases involving members of the Muslim community to Sharia law courts. The new legislation will give Greek courts priority in all cases.

The changes — considered long overdue by many Greek legal experts — follow a complaint to the Council of Europe's Court of Human Rights over an inheritance dispute by a Muslim woman who lives in the northeastern Greek city of Komotini.

Legislation concerning minority rights was based on international treaties following wars in the aftermath of the Ottoman empire's collapse. The Muslim minority in Greece is largely Turkish speaking. Minority areas were visited last month by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Greek governments in the past have been reluctant to amend minority rights, as many disputes between Greece and Turkey remain unresolved.

Currently, Islamic court hearings are presided over by a single official, a state-appointed Muslim cleric.

In parliament Tuesday, Constantine Gavroglou, minister of education and religious affairs, praised opposition party support for the bill.


China on Monday welcomed a Spanish court's decision to grant Beijing's request for the extradition of 121 Taiwanese nationals to China, a move that has drawn criticism from Taiwan, a self-ruled island.

Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told reporters at a regular briefing that Beijing appreciated Spain's firm support of its "One China" principle, which is Beijing's view that it has sovereignty over Taiwan.

Scores of Taiwanese have been arrested around the world over the past two years in connection with telecoms fraud scams targeting Chinese nationals. Countries including Malaysia, Cambodia and Kenya have deported Taiwanese suspects to China, in deference to Beijing which views Taiwan as its own territory without sovereign legal status and has long tried to diplomatically isolate it.

The deportations have highlighted Beijing's efforts to assert its sovereignty over Taiwan, and the leverage it wields over smaller nations to achieve that.

The Taiwanese foreign ministry on Sunday urged the Spanish government to send the suspects back to Taiwan instead of China. Taiwanese media reports cited a ministry spokesman as saying the European nation should observe the principles of nationality, proportionality and humanity.

In Beijing, Hua said the Spanish court's decision Friday was an "important outcome" of cooperation between China and Spain in using extradition to crack down on crime.

The Taiwanese nationals are accused of belonging to Spain-based gangs that swindled people in China out of millions of euros by telephone.

Interpol told Spain about the scam a year ago, and Spanish and Chinese authorities cooperated in an operation against the perpetrators.

Officials said the gangs made contact with people in China, pretending at first they were friends or family and warning them of fraud scams. In later calls, they pretended to be police investigating the scams and convinced many of the victims to put money into bank accounts run by the gangs.

Spain's National Court ruled there was no impediment to the extradition. Spain has an extradition treaty with China and no diplomatic relations with Taiwan. The democratic island split from the Chinese mainland during a civil war in 1949.



A court in Myanmar sentenced four members of a family to as much as 16 years in prison with hard labor on Friday after finding them guilty of enslaving and abusing their two teenage maids, in a case that has prompted widespread public outrage over the girls' treatment.

The two girls were 11 and 12 when they were sent to the city from their poor village in Myanmar's delta to work as maids for a family that owned a tailor shop. Five years later, a local journalist heard allegations of child abuse at the shop and investigated, pretending he wanted a suit. He wrote an article about the girls' broken fingers and scars from cuts, burns and beatings.

Police then investigated and arrested six family members who were accused of locking up and torturing the girls for five years, stabbing them with scissors and knives, and burning them with an iron. They were charged with assault and violations of anti-trafficking and child protection laws.

After a trial lasting more than a year, a district court in Yangon, Myanmar's largest city, on Friday sentenced the mother, Tin Thuzar, to 16 years and one month and two adult children to 13 years and one month, defense lawyer Hnin Su Aung said. The husband of one of the children also received a sentence of 13 years and one month.



A British banker sentenced to life in prison for the gruesome slayings of two Indonesian women appeared in a Hong Kong court on Tuesday to appeal his conviction.

Lawyers for Rurik Jutting made their case in the semiautonomous Chinese city's Court of Appeal, arguing that the trial judge gave incorrect instructions to the jury on deciding their verdict.

The nine-person jury last year convicted Cambridge University-educated Jutting of the 2014 killings of Seneng Mujiasih, 26, and Sumarti Ningsih, 23.

The case shocked residents of Hong Kong, while also highlighting wide inequality and seedy aspects usually hidden below the surface.

Jutting, 32, watched the proceedings from the dock Tuesday, wearing a blue dress shirt and often leafing through a bundle of court documents as he followed along. During a break he chatted with the three uniformed court officers sitting alongside him.

Jutting worked for Bank of America-Merrill Lynch, while Seneng and Sumarti arrived in Hong Kong as foreign maids but ended up as sex workers. During the trial, jurors were shown graphic iPhone videos shot by Jutting of him torturing Sumarti and snorting cocaine.

Jutting attempted at the trial to plead guilty to manslaughter, which the court rejected. His defense argued that he was under diminished responsibility.

On Tuesday, lawyer Gerard McCoy told the three-judge appeal panel that the trial judge made a "fatal error" in his directions to the jurors on how to assess Jutting's psychiatric disorders and whether they constituted a mental abnormality.

Under Hong Kong law, an "abnormality of mind" that substantially impairs mental responsibility can be used as a defense against a murder conviction.



A Moscow court on Monday ruled that a prominent theater and film director who is being investigated for fraud must remain under house arrest.

Kirill Serebrennikov, arguably Russia's best known director, was detained and put under house arrest in August in a criminal case that raised fears of a return to Soviet-style censorship.

Serebrennikov's plays have often been targeted by conservative circles, which dismiss his work as decadent and unpatriotic.

The court ruled Monday Serebrennikov should stay under house arrest at least until late January, rejecting a plea for bail.

Investigators have accused him of scheming to embezzle about $1.1 million in government funds allocated for one of his productions and the projects he directed between 2011 and 2014.

Serebrennikov has dismissed the accusations as absurd.

Serebrennikov's lawyer, Dmitry Kharitonov, told Russian news agencies on Monday that his client had petitioned the investigators to allow him to attend the premiere of the ballet "Nureyev" at the Bolshoi that he had directed. But the chances that Serebrennikov will be allowed to go to the Bolshoi are "negligible," Kharitonov said.

Tickets for "Nureyev," which premiers later this month, went on sale last month and were sold out in a matter of hours.


A convicted war criminal from Croatia swallowed what he said was poison and died Wednesday after a United Nations court in the Netherlands upheld his 20-year sentence for committing crimes against humanity during the Bosnian war of the 1990s.

In a stunning end to the final case at the U.N.'s International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, former Croatian general Slobodan Praljak yelled, "I am not a war criminal!" in a courtroom and appeared to drink from a small bottle.

Medical staff at the tribunal in The Hague rushed to Praljak's side before he was taken to a local hospital, where he died, tribunal spokesman Nenad Golcevski told reporters at the court.

The courtroom where the dramatic scene unfolded was sealed off. Presiding Judge Carmel Agius said it was now a "crime scene" and that Dutch police could investigate. Police in The Hague declined to comment on the case.

Dutch police, an ambulance and a firetruck quickly arrived outside the court's headquarters and emergency service workers, some of them wearing helmets and with oxygen tanks on their backs, went into the court shortly after the incident.

Praljak and five other former Bosnian Croat officials were convicted as part of a criminal plan to carve out a Bosnian Croat mini-state inside Bosnia in the early 1990s. All had their guilty verdicts sustained by the U.N.'s war crimes court Wednesday.


A court deferred ruling Thursday in a case that has exposed a rift within Germany's secretive Albrecht family, owners of the discount supermarket chain Aldi.

The dispute centers on the control over Aldi Nord, which operates in northern Germany and at least eight other European countries.

The widow of late patriarch Berthold Albrecht is contesting changes her husband made before his death in 2012 to the statutes of a family foundation that owns 19.5 percent of Aldi Nord.

A lower court sided with Babette Albrecht and her children, who are pitted against Berthold's brother, Theo Jr., and mother Caecilie Albrecht.

Germany's Manager Magazin recently estimated the Aldi Nord branch of the family's wealth at about 18 billion euros ($21 billion). The Schleswig court said the case would continue Dec. 7.

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