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A Brazilian Supreme Court justice ordered the government of President Jair Bolsonaro to resume publication of full COVID-19 data, including the cumulative death toll, following allegations the government was trying to hide the severity of the pandemic in Latin America’s biggest country.

Justice Alexandre de Moraes said late Monday that the government is obliged to provide necessary information to Brazilian citizens, days after the Health Ministry scrubbed the cumulative death toll from the new coronavirus from its website. De Moraes said in his decision that the gravity of the pandemic, which has killed more than 38,400 Brazilians, requires transparency from the government as the country shapes policies to curb the virus.

Brazil’s health ministry stopped publishing the number of total COVID-19 deaths and confirmed coronavirus cases on Friday.

The restriction on the release of data, combined with its announcement after evening news programs had ended, generated widespread criticism. Gilmar Mendes, another Supreme Court justice, said Saturday that manipulation of data is a tactic of authoritarian regimes and that hiding the numbers wouldn’t exempt the government from responsibility for the pandemic’s heavy toll in Brazil.

Facing intense criticism, a top Health Ministry official told reporters Monday night that the ministry would restore the cumulative death toll to its website, but with changes to the methodology for how daily deaths are tallied.



Polish President Andrzej Duda on Monday appointed a judge backed by the right-wing ruling party to be the new head of the Supreme Court, marking apparent victory in years of government efforts to take control of the court.

The new head, Malgorzata Manowska, 55, is also head of the state-run National School of Judiciary and Public Prosecution. She is under disciplinary investigation for keeping the school job after being appointed to the Supreme Court in 2018. The school itself is also under criminal investigation after personal data of its employees, including judges and prosecutors, was leaked.

Manowska also served as deputy justice minister in 2007, when the Law and Justice party was previously in power. On winning power again in 2015, the party started to make deep changes to the justice system, saying they were needed to put an end to the legacy of the communist era. The moves are gradually putting the judiciary under political control.

Monday's appointment was announced by Duda’s spokesman, Blazej Spychalski on Twitter. A formal ceremony is still pending. Manowska was selected from five candidates proposed by the court.

Critics said there were procedural flaws in the process of choosing Manowska for 1st President of the Supreme Court that will weaken her position. One of them was a lack of a formal court resolution naming her and other candidates.


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is lashing out at Israel’s justice system, saying his trial on corruption charges is an attempt to “depose” him.

Prime Minister Benjamin spoke Sunday as he arrived at a Jerusalem courthouse for the start of his trial. Netanyahu is set to appear at the opening hearing at a Jerusalem district court, after his request to have his lawyers represent him instead was rejected. The courthouse was drawing crowds of supporters, protesters and media hoping to witness Netanyahu enter the building, where he will hear the arraignment against him.

The dramatic scene comes just days after the long-serving leader swore in his new government, breaking more than a year of political stalemate following three inconclusive elections.

Netanyahu held his first Cabinet meeting with the new government just hours before heading to court. Neither he nor any of his ministers addressed the looming trial but the country's outgoing religious affairs minister wished Netanyahu that “God will bring the truth out” at his trial.

Netanyahu faces charges of fraud, breach of trust, and accepting bribes in a series of corruption cases stemming from ties to wealthy friends. He is accused of accepting lavish gifts and offering to grant favors to powerful media moguls in exchange for favorable coverage of him and his family. He denies the charges and has lashed out at the media, police, prosecution and courts of forging a conspiracy to oust him. It comes after years of scandals swirling around the family.



With the fate of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the line, Israel’s Supreme Court began discussions Sunday on the question of whether the embattled leader can form a new government while facing criminal indictments.

The court’s decision, expected later this week, is shaping up as a watershed moment in Israeli history.

A ruling preventing Netanyahu from returning for another term would almost certainly trigger an unprecedented fourth consecutive election in just over a year and draw angry, perhaps violent, reactions from Netanyahu’s supporters accusing the court of inappropriate political meddling. A ruling in favor will be seen by critics as further weakening the country’s fragile democratic institutions and a victory for a prime minister bent on escaping prosecution.

“The High Court of Justice is facing its most important verdict ever,” former Prime Minister Ehud Barak, a staunch critic of Netanyahu’s, wrote in the Haaretz daily.

“The High Court can make its name for generations in one moment’s brave decision,” he wrote. “On the other hand, should the court opt for legalistic niceties, irrespective under what intricate pretexts, it too will be crushed further down the road.”

The court challenge comes in the wake of Netanyahu’s agreement last month to form an “emergency” government with his rival, Benny Gantz.

After battling each other in three inconclusive elections over the past year, the two men cited the country’s coronavirus outbreak for their power-sharing agreement. But the deal includes a number of provisions — including the creation of the new office of “designated prime minister” — that appear to have little to do with the pandemic. Critics say they are meant to allow Netanyahu to remain in office throughout his upcoming trial.


The Netherlands' highest court ruled Tuesday that doctors can carry out euthanasia in patients with advanced dementia if the patient has earlier made a written directive.

The Supreme Court ruling solidifies in law a practice that already was being carried out on rare occasions in the Netherlands.

Dutch euthanasia advocacy group NVVE welcomed the ruling, saying in a statement that the decision should help doctors “to feel strengthened and supported if they want to carry out euthanasia on a patient with dementia.”

The case before the Supreme Court revolved around a district court's acquittal last year of a doctor who in 2016 carried out euthanasia on a 74-year-old woman. Prosecutors argued at the doctor's trial in The Hague there were indications the woman might have changed her mind since she declared her wish to be euthanized in a written statement.


Europe’s top court on Wednesday ordered Poland's government to immediately suspend a body it set up to discipline judges, saying the chamber did not guarantee independence or impartiality of its verdicts.

The Disciplinary Chamber of Poland’s Supreme Court, which was appointed by the right-wing government in 2017, is widely seen as a tool for the government to control judges who are critical of its policies.

The European Union, which has said the chamber violates basic values of judicial independence and Poland's rule of law, took Poland's government to the European Court of Justice in October.

While the case is still being considered, the European court ordered the Disciplinary Chamber suspended, saying its activity could “cause serious and irreparable harm with regard to the functioning of the EU legal order.”

Poland's government argues it has full right to shape its judiciary, saying it needs to be made more efficient and freed of its communist-era legacy.

Deputy Justice Minister Anna Dalkowska said the government will “weigh various options" after the European court's order.


A Pakistani court on Thursday overturned the murder conviction of a British Pakistani man found guilty of the 2002 kidnapping and killing of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl.

Instead, the court found Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh guilty of the lesser charge of kidnapping and sentenced him to seven years in prison.

Pearl disappeared Jan. 23, 2002 in Karachi while researching links between Pakistani militants and Richard C. Reid, who became known as the “shoe-bomber” after he was arrested on a flight from Paris to Miami with explosives in his shoes. Prosecutors said Saeed lured Pearl into a trap by promising to arrange an interview with an Islamic cleric who police believed was not involved in the conspiracy.

One of Saeed’s lawyers, Khwaja Naveed, said Saeed could go free unless the government chooses to challenge the court decision. Faiz Shah, prosecutor general for southern Sindh province, said the government will appeal to the Supreme Court of Pakistan.

The Committee to Protect Journalists issued a statement expressing disappointment at the court decision and supporting an appeal.

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