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A Spanish investigative judge has summoned the wife of Spain’s prime minister to give testimony as part of a probe into allegations that she used her position to influence business deals, a Madrid-based court said Tuesday.

Begoña Gómez is to appear at court on July 5 to answer questions.

Gómez has yet to speak publicly on the case, but Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez has called it a “smear campaign” to damage Spain’s leftist coalition government led by his Socialist party.

The probe is based on allegations against Gómez made by a group called Manos Limpias, or “Clean Hands.” Manos Limpias describes itself as a union, but its main activity is as a platform pursuing legal cases. Many have been linked to right-wing causes targeting leftist politicians, and most of them never succeed.

After the probe was launched in April, Sánchez stunned the nation by saying he would contemplate stepping down for what he said was the “attack without precedent” against his wife. After five days of silence, Sánchez said he had decided to remain in office.

The summoning of Gómez comes before this week’s European Parliament election, with Spaniards voting on Sunday. Far-right parties across Europe aim for big gains.

“I want to express our surprise for the fact and coincidence that this news is coming out precisely this week,” said Pilar Alegría, spokeswoman for Spain’s government.

“We are absolutely calm because we know there is nothing (to the allegations),” Alegría said. “What does exist is a mudslinging campaign by the right and far right.”

Manos Limpias has said its allegations against Gómez were entirely based on media reports: “If they are not true, it would be up to those who published them to admit to their falsehood, but if they are true, then we believe that the legal case should continue forward.”

Spain’s public prosecutors’ office recommended the probe be thrown out, but a provincial court ruled that the lower-court judge could continue the investigation. The judge will either table the probe or recommend it go to trial.


A Thai court on Monday sentenced a lawmaker from a progressive opposition party to two years in prison after finding her guilty of defaming the monarchy in a speech she made during a protest rally three years ago.

Chonthicha Jangrew of the Move Forward Party was greeted by several supporters when she arrived at the Thanyaburi Provincial Court in Pathum Thani province, north of Bangkok, with some party colleagues. Chonthicha, popularly known by her nickname “Lookkate,” represents a constituency in Pathum Thani.

Her charges stemmed from her speech in 2021 that demanded the release of all political prisoners during a rally in front of the same court that delivered Monday’s sentence.

She was found guilty for parts of the speech concerning how the government then led by Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha had amended laws to give King Vajiralongkorn more power to control the palace wealth, which is managed by the Crown Property Bureau.

The judge said her speech could misinform the public by suggesting that King Vajiralongkorn can spend taxpayers’ money for his personal use and use his influence to interfere with politics, which could tarnish his reputation.

The judge originally sentenced her to three years in prison, but reduced it to two years because of her cooperation in the trial. The law for defaming the monarchy, an offense known as lese majeste, carries a penalty of three to 15 years imprisonment. It is widely referred to as Article 112 from its place in the Criminal Code.

Chonthicha was afterwards released on bail of 150,000 baht ($4,100). Had bail not been granted and she been sent directly to prison, she would have immediately been removed from her seat in Parliament.

She told reporters that she wasn’t surprised about the verdict as the majority of 112 charges led to convictions.

She said she will appeal, adding that she was glad to have been granted release on bail but wished that other political prisoners were given the same right.

A young activist charged with lese majeste died in detention earlier this month after carrying out a monthslong hunger strike to protest the revocation of her bail in January.
Chonthicha and nine other defendants in the case were charged with other offenses including illegal assembly and violating an emergency decree enacted during the COVID-19 pandemic. All 10 were acquitted of those charges. Chonthicha was the only one who had been charged with violating the lese majeste law.

Before becoming a politician, Chonthicha had been an activist since she was a college student. She became a high-profile figure in the youth-dominated movement by confronting the police during the mass street protests that demanded democratic reform of several powerful institutions including the monarchy.


The United Nations’ top court ordered Israel on Friday to immediately halt its military offensive in the southern Gaza city of Rafah, but stopped short of ordering a cease-fire for the enclave. Although Israel is unlikely to comply with the order, it will ratchet up the pressure on the increasingly isolated country.

Criticism of Israel’s conduct in the war in Gaza has been growing, particularly since it turned its focus to Rafah. This week alone, three European countries announced they would recognize a Palestinian state, and the chief prosecutor for another international court requested arrest warrants for Israeli leaders, along with Hamas officials.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is also under some pressure at home to end the war, which was triggered when Hamas-led militants stormed into Israel, killing 1,200 people, most civilians, and taking roughly 250 hostage. Thousands of Israelis have joined weekly demonstrations calling on the government to reach a deal to bring the hostages home, fearing time is running out.

“The charges of genocide brought by South Africa against Israel at the International Court of Justice in the Hague are false, outrageous and morally repugnant,” Netanyahu’s government said in response to the ruling, maintaining its position that the military hasn’t and won’t target civilians.

South Africa was able to bring its case because it and Israel are signatories to the U.N.'s Genocide Convention, which includes a clause allowing the court to settle disputes over it.

Although the ruling is a blow to Israel’s international standing, the court doesn’t have a police force to enforce its orders. In another case on its docket, Russia has ignored the court’s 2022 order to halt its full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

The sharply focused decision sent a three-pronged message to Israel, ordering a halt to the Rafah offensive, access to Gaza for war crimes investigators, and a big and immediate increase of humanitarian aid to the region, parts of which are enduring famine.

Rafah is in the southernmost part of the Gaza Strip, on the border with Egypt, and over 1 million people sought refuge there in recent months after fleeing fighting elsewhere, with many of them living in teeming tent camps. Israel has been vowing for months to invade Rafah, saying it was Hamas’ last major stronghold, even as several allies warned that an all-out assault would spell disaster.

Israel started issuing evacuation orders about two weeks ago as it began operations on the edge of the city. Since then, the army says an estimated 1 million people have left as forces press deeper inside.

Rafah is also home to a critical crossing for aid, and the U.N. says the flow of aid reaching it has plunged since the incursion began, though commercial trucking has continued to enter Gaza.


The chief prosecutor of the world’s top war crimes court sought arrest warrants Monday for leaders of Israel and Hamas, including Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, over actions taken during their seven-month war.

While Netanyahu and his defense minister, Yoav Gallant, do not face imminent arrest, the announcement by the International Criminal Court’s chief prosecutor was a symbolic blow that deepened Israel’s isolation over the war in Gaza.

The court’s prosecutor, Karim Khan, accused Netanyahu, Gallant, and three Hamas leaders — Yehya Sinwar, Mohammed Deif and Ismail Haniyeh — of war crimes and crimes against humanity in the Gaza Strip and Israel.

Netanyahu and other Israeli leaders condemned the move as disgraceful and antisemitic. U.S. President Joe Biden also lambasted the prosecutor and supported Israel’s right to defend itself against Hamas.

A panel of three judges will decide whether to issue the arrest warrants and allow a case to proceed. The judges typically take two months to make such decisions.

Israel is not a member of the court, so even if the arrest warrants are issued, Netanyahu and Gallant do not face any immediate risk of prosecution. But the threat of arrest could make it difficult for the Israeli leaders to travel abroad.

Netanyahu called the prosecutor’s accusations against him a “disgrace,” and an attack on the Israeli military and all of Israel. He vowed to press ahead with Israel’s war against Hamas.

Biden said the effort to arrest Netanyahu and Gallant over the war in Gaza was “outrageous,” adding “whatever this prosecutor might imply, there is no equivalence — none — between Israel and Hamas.”

Hamas also denounced the ICC prosecutor’s actions, saying the request to arrest its leaders “equates the victim with the executioner.”

Netanyahu has come under heavy pressure at home to end the war. Thousands of Israelis have joined weekly demonstrations calling on the government to reach a deal to bring home Israeli hostages in Hamas captivity, fearing that time is running out.

In recent days, the two other members of his war Cabinet, Gallant and Benny Gantz, have threatened to resign if Netanyahu does not spell out a clear postwar vision for Gaza.

But on Monday, Netanyahu received wall-to-wall support as politicians across the spectrum condemned the ICC prosecutor’s move. They included Israel’s president, Isaac Herzog, and his two main political rivals, Gantz and opposition leader Yair Lapid.

It is unclear what effect Khan’s move will have on Netanyahu’s public standing. The possibility of an arrest warrant against Netanyahu could give him a boost as Israelis rally behind the flag. But his opponents could also blame him for bringing a diplomatic catastrophe on the country.

Yuval Shany, an expert on international law at Hebrew University and the Israel Democracy Institute, a Jerusalem think tank, said it was far more certain that Netanyahu’s already troubled international standing could be further weakened.


The man accused of attempting to assassinate Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico was ordered to remain behind bars Saturday as the nation’s leader was in serious but stable condition after surviving multiple gunshots, officials said.

Slovakia’s Specialized Criminal Court ordered the detention of the suspect after prosecutors said they feared he could flee or carry out other crimes if set free, a court spokesperson said. The suspect can appeal the order to the Supreme Court.

Fico, 59, was shot in the abdomen as he greeted supporters following a government meeting Wednesday in the former coal mining town of Handlova, officials said. Video showed Fico approach people gathered at barricades and reach out to shake hands as a man stepped forward, extended his arm and fired five rounds before being tackled and arrested.

Government ministers outside the hospital where Fico is being treated said his condition Saturday looked promising after two hours of surgery Friday removed dead tissue from his gunshot wounds. But he still is not healthy enough to travel to a hospital in the capital, Bratislava.

“Several miracles have occurred ... in the past few days, coming from the hands of the doctors, nurses and entire medical staff,” Defense Minister Rober Kalinak said outside University F. D. Roosevelt Hospital in Banská Bystrica, where Fico was taken by helicopter after the shooting. “I can’t find words of gratitude for the fact that we are steadily approaching that positive prognosis.”

The hearing in Pezinok, a small town outside the capital, Bratislava, was held behind closed doors and under tight security by heavily armed police. Reporters were not allowed on the grounds of the courthouse.

Officers carrying rifles wore flak jackets, helmets and had balaclavas covering their faces. They guarded a gate that only opened when a vehicle presumably carrying the suspect came and later left with a two-car police escort.

not to publicly identify him or release details about the case. Unconfirmed media reports have named him and said he was a 71-year-old retiree known as an amateur poet who may have once worked as a mall security guard.

Government authorities gave details that matched that description. They said the suspect didn’t belong to any political groups, though the attack itself was politically motivated.

It’s not clear how long the hearing lasted but the suspect was inside for about four hours.


Israel strongly denied charges of genocide on Friday, telling the United Nations’ top court it was doing everything it could to protect the civilian population during its military operation in Gaza.

The International Court of Justice wrapped up a third round of hearings on emergency measures requested by South Africa, which says Israel’s military incursion in the southern city of Rafah threatens the “very survival of Palestinians in Gaza” and has asked the court to order a cease-fire.

Tamar Kaplan-Tourgeman, one of Israel’s legal team, defended the country’s conduct, saying it had allowed in fuel and medication to the beleaguered enclave.

“Israel takes extraordinary measures in order to minimize the harm to civilians in Gaza,” she told The Hague-based court.

A protester shouting “Liars” briefly interrupted Kaplan-Tourgeman’s final remarks. The hearing was paused for less than a minute while security guards escorted a woman from the public gallery.

South Africa told the court on Thursday that the situation in the beleaguered enclave has reached “a new and horrific stage” and urged judges to order a half to Israeli military operations. The court was holding a third round of hearings on emergency measures requested by South Africa since it first filed its genocide case at the end of last year.

According to the latest request, South Africa says Israel’s military incursion in Rafah threatens the “very survival of Palestinians in Gaza.” In January, judges ordered Israel to do all it can to prevent death, destruction and any acts of genocide in Gaza, but the panel stopped short of ordering an end to the military offensive. Judges will now deliberate on the request and are expected to issue a decision in the next weeks.

ICJ judges have broad powers to order a cease-fire and other measures, though the court doesn’t have its own enforcement apparatus. A 2022 order by the court demanding that Russia halt its full-scale invasion of Ukraine has so far gone unheeded.

Most of Gaza’s population of 2.3 million people have been displaced since fighting began.

The war began with a Hamas attack on southern Israel on Oct. 7 in which Palestinian militants killed around 1,200 people and took about 250 hostages. More than 35,000 Palestinians have been killed in the war, Gaza’s Health Ministry says, without distinguishing between civilians and combatants in its count.


South Africa told the United Nations’ top court on Thursday the situation in Gaza has reached “a new and horrific stage” as it sought emergency measures to halt Israel’s military operation in the enclave’s southern city of Rafah.

It was the third time the International Court of Justice held hearings on the conflict in Gaza since South Africa filed proceedings at The Hague-based court in December accusing Israel of genocide.

“Seven months ago South Africa could not have imagined that Gaza would be largely wiped off the map,” the country’s ambassador to the Netherlands, Vusimuzi Madonsela, told the panel of 15 international judges Thursday.

During hearings earlier this year, Israel strongly denied committing genocide in Gaza, saying it does all it can to spare civilians and is only targeting Hamas militants. The country says Rafah is the last stronghold of the militant group.

South Africa argues that the military operation has far surpassed justified self-defense. “Israel’s actions in Rafah are part of the end game. This is the last step in the destruction of Gaza,” lawyer Vaughan Lowe said.

According to the latest request, the previous preliminary orders by The Hague-based court were not sufficient to address “a brutal military attack on the sole remaining refuge for the people of Gaza.” Israel will be allowed to answer the accusations on Friday.

In January, judges ordered Israel to do all it can to prevent death, destruction and any acts of genocide in Gaza, but the panel stopped short of ordering an end to the military offensive that has laid waste to the Palestinian enclave. In a second order in March, the court said Israel must take measures to improve the humanitarian situation.

South Africa has to date submitted four requests for the international court to investigate Israel. It was granted a hearing three times. Most of Gaza’s population of 2.3 million people have been displaced since fighting began.

The war began with a Hamas attack on southern Israel on Oct. 7 in which Palestinian militants killed around 1,200 people and took about 250 hostages. Gaza’s Health Ministry says over 35,000 Palestinians have been killed in the war, without distinguishing between civilians and combatants in its count.

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