France Court Probes Minister For Conflict Of Interest

A file photo of a court gavel.

 

A French court has launched an investigation into Justice Minister Eric Dupond-Moretti for alleged conflict of interest relating to his time as a lawyer, prosecutors told AFP on Wednesday.

The Court of the Republic, which deals with cases involving suspected misconduct by sitting cabinet members, launched the probe following complaints by Anticor, an anti-corruption association, and three magistrates’ unions.

The allegations centre on an administrative investigation ordered by Dupond-Moretti against three prosecutors working at the financial crimes prosecutor’s office.

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The three were part of a team trying to find a mole who may have warned former president Nicolas Sarkozy and his lawyer Thierry Herzog that their phones were being tapped as part of a corruption probe.

The investigators checked the phone records of, among others, Dupond-Moretti, who was still a criminal defence lawyer at the time and not yet a minister, and who filed a complaint against them.

Asked last week about the allegations that he may have used his cabinet job to settle scores, Dupond-Moretti said: “When the time comes I will explain myself, you can count on me to say everything that I have to say”.

AFP

DR Congo PM Lashes Out At Arrest Of Justice Minister

The Democratic Republic of the Congo, also known as DR Congo, the DRC, DROC, Congo-Kinshasa, or simply the Congo, is a country located in Central Africa
The Democratic Republic of the Congo, also known as DR Congo, the DRC, DROC, Congo-Kinshasa, or simply the Congo, is a country located in Central Africa

 

The Democratic Republic of Congo’s prime minister has chastised President Felix Tshisekedi over the “arbitrary” arrest of the justice minister in a deepening government rift over proposed judicial reforms.

Justice Minister Celestin Tunda Ya Kasende was detained for several hours on Saturday after clashing with Tshisekedi over the legal changes, which set off two days of violent protests in Kinshasa last week.

He was later released without charge, with the prosecutor saying it was a “pointless hassle” according to one of his supporters.

The feud has pitted Tshisekedi loyalists against supporters of his predecessor Joseph Kabila, who still wields huge behind-the-scenes influence 18 months after standing down from the presidency.

“Members of the government have expressed their indignation at the humiliation suffered by their colleague,” Prime Minister Sylvestre Ilunga’s office said in a statement dated Saturday and seen by AFP on Sunday.

The ministers “condemn this arbitrary arrest” which they said was “in violation of the basic rule of law”, the statement said, calling for an investigation into those who launched the arrest proceedings.

Several sources said Saturday that Ilunga had threatened to resign over the incident, a move that would have put an end to the fragile government coalition.

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Both Ilunga and Tunda Ya Kasende are members of the Common Front for Congo (FCC) a grouping close to Kabila which sits alongside Tshisekedi’s Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS) in government and accounts for about two thirds of cabinet posts.

The controversial judicial reforms were put forward by the FCC and include proposals to define the powers of judges, which critics say is a ploy to muzzle the judiciary in a country known for its instability.

Angry Tshisekedi supporters took to the streets for two days last week in violent demonstrations against the changes.

Tshisekedi took office in January last year in the first peaceful transfer of power in sub-Saharan Africa’s largest country after 18 years with Kabila at the helm.

While the handover eased fears that the country would plunge again into civil strife, Tshisekedi has faced a bumpy ride and the sprawling coalition remains a source of tensions.

AFP

Riot In Colombia Prison Leaves 23 Dead – Government

Inmates extend their hands at the Modelo prison in Bogota after a riot on March 22, 2020. – A riot in a prison in the Colombian capital has left 23 inmates dead and 90 wounded, Justice Minister Margarita Cabello announced Sunday. The riot was triggered by an attempted mass breakout overnight from La Modelo prison. DANIEL MUNOZ / AFP.

 

Rioting that swept through a crowded prison overnight in the Colombian capital Bogota left 23 inmates dead and 90 wounded, Justice Minister Margarita Cabello announced Sunday.

The riot was triggered by an attempted mass breakout from La Modelo prison, Cabello said, as the capital was on a weekend lockdown over the coronavirus pandemic.

Riots occurred “in several penitentiary centers in the country,” Cabello said in a statement. “The result of the attempted escape in the Modelo was 23 inmates dead.”

La Modelo is Bogota’s second largest prison after La Picota, where protests also erupted on Saturday night.

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According to Cabello, 83 inmates and seven guards were injured in the disturbances inside La Modelo. Around half the injured prisoners were hospitalized, and two of the guards were in “critical condition.”

“There were no escapes,” she added.

The head of Colombia’s prison authorities, General Norberto Mujica, said his forces had taken back full control of the prison.

“Our guards prevented the escape from being carried out. We achieved that today and as a result are not looking for 5,000 prisoners that would have escaped.”

The government rejected accusations that the riots were sparked by unsanitary conditions inside a prison system unprepared to face the coronavirus pandemic.

“There is no health problem that would have caused the escape plan and these riots,” Cabello said.

“Today there is not a single infection, and no prisoners, nor administration or custodial officials, that have the coronavirus.”

AFP

Liberia’s Justice Minister Steps Aside In Oil Probe

 

Liberia’s Justice Minister on Wednesday announced he would step aside from a probe into a contested oil deal, as he used to be head of the country’s national oil company.

Frank Musa Dean had been appointed to head the probe just six days earlier by Liberia’s newly-elected president, George Weah, who has vowed to crack down on corruption.

In a statement, Dean said he had decided to step aside from the probe — initiated by an undercover investigation by the NGO Global Witness — in the interests of transparency.

“The decision to recuse myself is based on the fact that I served as President and Chief Executive Officer of NOCAL [the National Oil Company of Liberia] between 2004 and January 2006,” he said.

The controversy stems from a deal in 2013 when the US oil major Exxon Mobil paid $68.5 million (55.73 million euros) for a licence to exploit a Liberian oilfield called Block 13.

It bought Block 13 from a company called Broadway Consolidated/Peppercoast (BCP), which had initially been awarded the licence from NOCAL in 2005.

In a report released on March 29, Global Witness said it had evidence that in 2005 BCP was part-owned at the time by Liberia’s minister for mining and a deputy minister — a breach of Liberian law.

Corporate documents, it said, show “Exxon knew that Block 13 was originally awarded through bribery and that its purchase of the oil block could enrich former officials who might have been behind BCP.”

Global Witness’ report also said “bonuses” of $35,000 were made to senior Liberian officials after Exxon acquired Block 13.

President Weah had immediately ordered a probe into the scandal and named Dean as lead investigator.

But Global Witness on Monday said his appointment was “a clear conflict of interest.”

“President Weah has promised Liberians that he will tackle Liberia’s endemic corruption. This is his first major test in office to see if he will make good on that promise,” said campaigner Jonathan Gant.

“Calling for this investigation is a good start. Now the president should ensure it is independent and fair -– and it cannot be as long as it is led by Justice Minister Dean.”

AFP

George Weah Bows To Pressure, Replaces Controversial Justice Minister

(FILE PHOTO) Liberia’s President, George Weah

Liberia’s new President, George Weah has bowed to intense pressure and replaced his choice for justice minister after local media reported lawyer Charles Gibson was stripped of his licence for embezzling a client.

A statement withdrawing the nomination “with immediate effect” was issued late Wednesday following the first serious hiccup for the ex-football star since being sworn in for a six-year term on January 22.

Gibson, a high-profile legal figure, was once suspended by the Supreme Court for duping a client out of $25,000, and was ordered to repay the costs.

He will be replaced by Musa Dean, previously a lawyer with the National Elections Commission (NEC), who battled Weah’s political opponents in the Supreme Court as they tried to delay the presidential vote that the sportsman won in a landslide.

The new nomination must be approved by the senate.

Weah has given posts to a mixture of inexperienced but loyal figures from his Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) party, along with some key members held over from the former government.

The former AC Milan and Paris St Germain star has slashed the price of rice and taken a personal pay cut of 25 percent since his inauguration, after campaigning on a platform to raise living standards and tackle corruption.

AFP

Syria Conflict: German MPs Vote On Anti-ISIS Military Mission

Anti-ISIS Military MissionGermany’s parliament has voted to send German military support to the US-led coalition fighting Islamic State (ISIS) militants in Syria.

MPs approved the controversial plan for a German non-combat role.

Tornado Reconnaissance Aircraft, a naval frigate and a 1,200 soldiers will now be sent to the region.

The vote came after a French appeal following last month’s Paris attacks. Ministers believe Germany is now an ISIS target too.

On Thursday, British warplanes carried out first air strikes on ISIS targets in Syria after the country’s parliament authorised the military operation.

Chancellor Angela Merkel relied on MPs from the ruling CDU/CSU coalition to back the motion for military involvement.

Germany’s opposition party rejected the mission, while most of the parliament’s Green MPs also voted no, according to reports.

Ahead of the vote, Green Party Chairwoman, Simone Peter, expressed concern about the legal basis for the mission without a specific UN resolution authorising it.

But Justice Minister, Heiko Maas, told Tagesspiegel newspaper on Friday that he had no doubts about the legal legitimacy.

Zimbabwe’s Mugabe Calls Information Minister ‘Devil Incarnate’

MugabeZimbabwe’s President, Robert Mugabe, on Friday branded his Information Minister a “devil incarnate”, accusing him of appointing editors of state-owned newspapers who were sympathetic to the opposition.

Mugabe said Jonathan Moyo, appointed Information Minister last year, was using the government-controlled newspapers to sow divisions.

Zimbabwe’s private media say an intense battle to succeed the 90-year-old Mugabe has sucked in the state-owned press.

Vice-President, Joice Mujuru and Justice Minister, Emmerson Mnangangwa, are seen as the frontrunners, while the veteran leader, who has ruled Zimbabwe since independence from Britain in 1980, has said the contest is open to other ZANU-PF leaders as well.

“I am saying this in light of what is happening now. When you have our Minister of Information wanting to pit people one against another, you don’t do things like that,” Mugabe said in remarks broadcast on state-owned radio.

Moyo was a strong critic of Mugabe’s rule while lecturing at the University of Zimbabwe before his first appointment as Information Minister in 2002. He was fired from the post by Mugabe in 2005 for standing as an independent candidate in parliamentary elections that year.

“Devil Incarnate”.

Moyo was withering in his criticism of Mugabe, calling him a “national security threat” in 2008, before he re-joined ZANU-PF in 2009 and became one of the major architects of Mugabe’s landslide victory in last July’s elections.

On Friday, Mugabe told mourners at a funeral of a senior ZANU-PF official that Moyo, a professor of political science, was trying to use his “knowledge and intellectual ideas” to destroy ZANU-PF by appointing editors sympathetic to the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

“I am saying this because all the men that we had, who were leading the newspapers, were fired and replaced by those from the MDC,” Mugabe said.

“You were all thinking you had a trusted person,” he said, referring to Moyo, adding that the minister was in fact “a devil incarnate”.

Moyo has since his appointment last year changed editors at major state-controlled newspapers and also suspended the chief executive of state broadcaster ZBC.

Justice Minister Urges Court To Vacate Order In Suit Against NIMASA

Federal Attorney General and Minister of Justice; Mister Mohammed Adoke has filed an Application seeking to discharge an order of a Federal High court against the Federal Government in a suit instituted by the Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) over the non-payment of levies to NIMASA.

In an application filed on behalf of the Attorney General by Doctor Fabian Ajogwu, the Justice Minister argued that the order of court was essentially made against NIMASA, which was not a party to the suit, and not the office of the Attorney General.

The Attorney General said he is not a party to the dispute between NLNG and NIMASA and therefore no cause of action warranted the grant of the ex-parte order against him.

He therefore urged that NIMASA be given an opportunity to present its own side of the case and that the ex parte order be vacated and the application is fixed for July 4th.