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Myanmar’s Supreme Court on Tuesday rejected the final appeal of two Reuters journalists and upheld seven-year prison sentences for their reporting on the military’s brutal crackdown on Rohingya Muslims.

Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo earlier this month shared with their colleagues the Pulitzer Prize for international reporting, one of journalism’s highest honors. The reporters were arrested in December 2017 and sentenced last September after being accused of illegally possessing official documents, a violation of a colonial-era law.

The court did not given a reason for its decision, which was quickly decried by rights advocates.

“Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo should never have been arrested, much less prosecuted, for doing their jobs as investigative journalists,” said Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director for New York-based Human Rights Watch. “Sadly, when it comes to media freedom, both Myanmar’s military and the civilian government seem equally determined to extinguish any ability to question their misrule and rights violations.”

Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, who are being held in a prison in Yangon, were not present for the ruling, but their wives were. Kyaw Soe Oo’s wife, Chit Su, broke down in tears when the ruling was read.

“Both he and I hoped for the best,” Chit Su told reporters. “I am terribly sad for this decision.”

Wa Lone, 32, and Kyaw Soe Oo, 28, had denied the charges against them and contended they were framed by police. International rights groups, media freedom organizations, U.N experts and several governments condemned their conviction as an injustice and an attack on freedom of the press.

“Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo did not commit any crime, nor was there any proof that they did,” Gail Gove, Reuters chief counsel, said in a statement after the ruling. “Instead, they were victims of a police setup to silence their truthful reporting. We will continue to do all we can to free them as soon as possible.”

Khin Maung Zaw, a lawyer for the two, said the pair could still seek their freedom by petitioning the president’s office or the legislature.

President Win Myint could reduce the sentence, order a retrial or have them released. Legislative action for a retrial would be a lengthier, more complicated process.


A Louisiana abortion clinic is asking the Supreme Court to strike down regulations that could leave the state with just one clinic.

A divided high court had previously agreed to block the law pending a full review of the case.

An appeal being filed with the court Wednesday says the justices should now take the next step and declare the law an unconstitutional burden on the rights of women seeking an abortion. The Louisiana provision is similar to a Texas law the court struck down in 2016.

If the justices agree to hear the Louisiana case, as seems likely, it could lead to a decision on the high-profile abortion issue in spring 2020, in the midst of the presidential election campaign.

The case presents a swirling mix of the changed court’s views on abortion rights and its respect for earlier high court decisions.

Louisiana’s law requires abortion providers to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals. The justices said in 2016 that a Texas law provided “few, if any, health benefits for women.”

But the composition of the court has changed since then. President Donald Trump has put two justices, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, on the court. Kavanaugh replaced Justice Anthony Kennedy, who voted to strike down the Texas law. Trump had pledged during the campaign to appoint “pro-life” justices, and abortion opponents are hoping the more conservative bench will be more open to upholding abortion restrictions.

Louisiana abortion providers and a district judge who initially heard the case said one or maybe two of the state’s three abortion clinics would have to close under the new law. There would be at most two doctors who could meet its requirements, they said.

But the appeals court in New Orleans rejected those claims, doubting that any clinics would have to close and saying the doctors had not tried hard enough to establish relationships with local hospitals.

In January, the full appeals court voted 9-6 not to get involved in the case, setting up the Supreme Court appeal.

In February, the justices split 5-4 to keep the law on hold. Chief Justice John Roberts, a dissenter in the 2016 case from Texas, joined with the court’s four liberal justices to temporarily block the Louisiana measure.


Dozens of high-profile Australian journalists and major media organizations were represented by lawyers in a court on Monday on charges relating to breaches of a gag order on reporting about Cardinal George Pell's convictions for sexually molesting two choirboys.

Reporting in any format accessible from Australia about the former Vatican economy chief's convictions in a Melbourne court in December was banned by a judge's suppression order that was not lifted until February.

Such suppression orders are common in the Australian and British judicial systems, and breaches can result in jail terms. But the enormous international interest in a criminal trial with global ramifications has highlighted the difficulty in enforcing such orders in the digital world.

Lawyers representing 23 journalists, producers and broadcasters as well as 13 media organizations that employ them appeared in the Victoria state Supreme Court for the first time on charges including breaching the suppression order and sub judice contempt, which is the publishing of material that could interfere with the administration of justice. Some are also charged with scandalizing the court by undermining public confidence in the judiciary as well as aiding and abetting foreign media outlets in breaching the suppression order.

Media lawyer Matthew Collins told the court that convictions could have a chilling effect on open justice in Australia. He described the prosecutions as unprecedented under Australian law.

"This is as serious as it gets in terms of convictions, fines and jail time," Collins said. Justice John Dixon urged lawyers to consider whether all 36 people and companies would face a single trial or whether there should be 36 trials.

He ordered prosecutors to file detailed statements of claim against all those charged by May 20 and defense lawyers to file responses by June 21.


Kentucky’s chief justice has unveiled a statewide initiative to help the judicial system respond to the opioid epidemic that has put a strain on courts.

Chief Justice John D. Minton Jr. said Thursday that the effort aims to better equip judges, circuit court clerks and court personnel to deal with the challenges caused by drug addiction.

Minton says the program will help judges as they steer drug offenders into recovery programs. He says the initiative will help provide evidence-based information on best court practices to support treatment of drug addiction.

Kentucky has been hard hit by the wave of addictions to opioid painkillers.

Judges and court officials from across the state attended the announcement at the state Capitol.


A Wisconsin appeals court sided with Democratic Gov. Tony Evers on Tuesday, ruling that he had the authority to withdraw appointments made by then-Gov. Scott Walker and approved by Republicans during a lame-duck legislative session.

The state's 3rd District Court of Appeals declined to reinstate the 15 appointees as Republicans wanted. The court said Evers' rescinding of the appointments was not invalidated by a later court ruling that put on hold the decision that allowed him to take the action.

Republican Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald promised an immediate appeal to the Wisconsin Supreme Court, which is controlled 4-3 by conservatives.

"As the governor has repeatedly said, he acted properly and within the law to withdraw those improper appointments and make his own valid appointments," Evers' spokeswoman Melissa Baldauff said in reaction to the ruling.

Hours before the ruling came out, Fitzgerald said that Republicans were "pretty wild" with anger over Evers' decision to revoke the appointments and may not vote on confirming his Cabinet secretaries while the court battle continues.

The position by the Senate's top Republican highlighted the deep divide between Republicans who control the Legislature and the newly elected governor. The Senate has not acted to confirm any of Evers' Cabinet picks while courts settle legal issues stemming from a lame-duck session in which Republicans pushed through several measures weakening the powers of Evers and Democratic Attorney General Josh Kaul.

"I think some of those Cabinet members are going to be in trouble," Fitzgerald said, declining to name those who may be in greater jeopardy than others.

Evers said he did not see Fitzgerald's comments as retribution over the lame-duck legal fight, but rather "huffing and puffing."

"This will be resolved at some point in time," Evers told reporters. "Whether it's retribution or not, it's not going to work. First of all, the work of the state has to go on whether it's retribution or not."

Evers' Cabinet secretaries are working while their confirmations by the Senate are pending. If they are rejected, they would have to quit working.

The fight goes back to the lame-duck session Republicans called for December, after Evers had defeated Walker but before he took office. Republicans approved 82 Walker appointments, in addition to passing a number of power-stripping laws.


An acclaimed Russian theater and film director was freed from house arrest Monday, a verdict that follows longtime calls for his release from prominent cultural figures worldwide.

The Moscow City Court overturned a district court’s decision to extend the house arrest for Kirill Serebrennikov, and ordered him freed on his own recognizance and requested that he not leave the Russian capital pending completion of his trial. Two of his associates were also freed from house arrest.

Serebrennikov has been under house arrest for nearly 20 months on charges of embezzling 133 million rubles (about $2 million) of state funding for a theater project. He has rejected the accusations as absurd, and many in Russia saw the charges as punishment for his anti-establishment views.

Speaking to reporters after the court’s verdict, Serebrennikov said he would push for his acquittal. “I would only be happy when this nightmare ends completely and we prove our innocence,” he said.

Serebrennikov added that he would quickly return to work at his Gogol Center theater. “It’s going to be difficult psychologically, but we have so much work to do,” he said.

Serebrennikov’s ballet about dancer Rudolf Nureyev premiered in Moscow’s Bolshoi Theater when he was already under house arrest, and his film “Leto” (Summer) about the country’s Soviet-era rock scene was shown at the Cannes Film Festival last year despite his absence.

Top members of the Russian artistic community have continuously appealed to President Vladimir Putin to set Serebrennikov free, and many prominent international artistic figures have joined the call.

Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, refrained from comment on the court’s decision to free Serebrennikov. Serebrennikov’s productions, ranging from drama to opera and movies, have mocked official lies, corruption and growing social conservatism.

They have been criticized by hard-line politicians and conservative activists, and his arrest in August 2017 has raised fears of a return to Soviet-style censorship.

Serebrennikov’s backers have argued that Serebrennikov fell victim to arcane bureaucratic rules that make it very difficult for any director to make theater productions without breaching some of the convoluted official norms.


A Japanese court on Friday approved the detention of former Nissan Chairman Carlos Ghosn through April 14 after his latest arrest over financial misconduct allegations, a move that has raised questions among legal experts.

The former star executive was taken into custody Thursday over new allegations that $5 million sent by a Nissan Motor Co. subsidiary and meant for an Oman dealership was diverted to a company effectively controlled by Ghosn.

Ghosn spent nearly four months in detention and was just released last month after meeting stringent bail conditions while he awaits trial over earlier allegations that he understated his compensation in financial documents, had Nissan shoulder his personal investment losses and made dubious payments to a Saudi businessman.

The Tokyo District Court on Friday approved the initial 10-day detention request from prosecutors, who can seek another 10-day extension before needing to file charges against Ghosn, release him or accuse him of new misconduct that needs investigating.

Stringing out a suspect’s arrest for the full 20 days and then raising new accusations is common in Japan, where it is known as a “rearrest.” Critics say it allows suspects to be grilled by the authorities, resulting in some signing confessions to crimes they never committed.

But it is rare for a suspect to receive bail and then be taken back into custody.

Ghosn’s legal team an appeal with the court Friday, arguing against the detention. The court later rejected that.

Ghosn, 65, was first arrested Nov. 19 and released March 6 on 1 billion yen ($8.9 million) bail, after two previous rearrests. He says he is innocent of all allegations.

Prosecutors argue the latest accusations are different from the previous ones, but his legal team says they are part of the same scenario of wrongdoing.

In demanding the latest detention, prosecutors argued Ghosn may tamper with evidence related to the new allegations. Prosecutors had earlier fought against bail for Ghosn, a citizen of France, Brazil and Lebanon, arguing he was a flight risk.

Ghosn’s lawyer, Junichiro Hironaka, pointed out that prosecutors have already raided Ghosn’s property and taken everything, leaving little to tamper with. He accused prosecutors of trying to silence Ghosn, who had tweeted he was planning a news conference next week to tell “the truth about what was happening.”

Stephen Givens, an American who practices law in Japan, said the latest accusations are more serious than the previous charges because they imply Ghosn pocketed the money, while the earlier charges were technical offenses that didn’t harm Nissan or lead to personal gain.

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