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  Military Law - Legal News


Mexico's Supreme Court invalidated a controversial law signed last year that created a legal framework for the military to work in a policing role in much of the country, ruling Thursday that the measure violated the constitution by trying to normalize the use of the armed forces in public safety.

Deep-rooted corruption and ineffectiveness among local and state police forces has led Mexico to rely heavily on the military to combat drug cartels in parts of the country.

But military commanders have long expressed uneasiness about what was essentially an open-ended policing mission. The armed forces have been implicated in a number of human rights abuse cases.

On Wednesday, President-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador announced a security plan that would also lean on the military. He proposed forming a National Guard initially made up of elements from the navy and army police as well as federal police.

After drawing a raft of criticism, especially from human rights groups, Lopez Obrador sought on Thursday to distinguish between his plan and his predecessors'. He said congress would seek a constitutional reform to allow it.

"Because I don't want to use the army and the navy like they have been doing for public safety work if they are not authorized to carry out those functions," Lopez Obrador said.

But the international human rights group Amnesty International said the Supreme Court's decision should cause Lopez Obrador to rethink his security plan.


A pop singer and prominent critic of Uganda's government was charged with unlawful possession of firearms and ammunition in a military court on Thursday for his alleged role in clashes in which the longtime president's motorcade was attacked by people throwing stones.

Lawmaker Kyagulanyi Ssentamu, whose stage name is Bobi Wine, was arrested in the northwestern town of Arua earlier this week. In a court session closed to reporters, he was remanded and will reappear on Aug. 23, the military said in a statement.

Ssentamu's wife insisted he doesn't know how to handle a weapon, and rights activists demanded his release. In a suburb of the capital, Kampala, small groups of his supporters took to the streets and burned tires in protest but police quickly dispersed them, national police spokesman Emilian Kayima said.

Three other lawmakers arrested alongside Ssentamu were charged earlier on Thursday with treason in a magistrates' court in the northern town of Gulu, where he was detained.

Many Ugandans expressed concern for Ssentamu's safety after Uganda's deputy prime minister told lawmakers he had been hospitalized in custody, without giving details.

The clashes broke out on Monday when Ssentamu and other politicians, including President Yoweri Museveni, were in Arua campaigning in a by-election to choose a lawmaker after the previous one was shot dead near Kampala in June.

Ssentamu's driver was shot dead in the clashes. The lawmaker later posted a picture of the dead man on Twitter, saying he had been killed by the police "thinking they've shot at me."

A group of lawmakers authorized by the parliamentary speaker to investigate the situation told reporters on Thursday that they had been unable to see the pop star.



The Supreme Court is leaving in place a decision that the alleged mastermind of the 2000 attack on the USS Cole that killed 17 U.S. sailors should face a trial by a military commission.

The court on Monday declined to take up the case of Saudi national Abd al Rahim al-Nashiri (ahbd al-ruh-HEEM' al-nuh-SHEE'-ree). Al-Nashiri had sought to challenge the authority of a military commission in Guantanamo Bay hearing his case. But an appeals court ruled last year that al-Nashiri's challenge would have to wait until after his trial.

Al-Nashiri argued that military commissions only have authority over offenses that take place during an armed conflict. He said the U.S. was not officially at war with al-Qaida at the time of the attack.


A military equipment dealer was convicted Thursday of scheming with soldiers at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, to steal sensitive material for sale to buyers in Russia, China and Mexico.

John Roberts, of Clarksville, Tennessee, was found guilty of conspiracy to steal and sell government property, two counts of violating the Arms Export Control Act and 10 counts of wire fraud. Prosecutors said he faces up to five years in prison for conspiracy and up to 20 years for each count of arms export violations and wire fraud.

More than $1 million in weapons parts, body armor, helmets, gun sights and other equipment was stolen and sold in a vast black market, prosecutors said. Six soldiers and another civilian pleaded guilty. One testified that Roberts was given a tour of the base to see items to be stolen. Eventually, they brought equipment back from Afghanistan and sold it by the truckload.



Relatives of two of the three U.S. military trainers shot dead at the gate of a Jordanian air base last year have described the pain of their loss to a military court trying the alleged killer.

The family members attended a court hearing in Jordan's capital Monday and will remain until the verdict, expected next week.

A Jordanian soldier charged with murder in the shootings faces life in prison if convicted.

The soldier, who allegedly opened deadly fire on U.S. troops at the gate, has pleaded "not guilty." The judge has said he has no ties to terrorist groups.

The defense attorney said his client fired because he feared the base was under attack The prosecutor said the defendant acted with intent, having fired dozens of rounds over several minutes.



Military prosecutors have reached into a section of military law seldom used since World War II in the politically fraught case against U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, the soldier held prisoner for years by the Taliban after leaving his post in Afghanistan.

Observers wondered for months if Bergdahl would be charged with desertion after the deal brokered by the U.S. to bring him home. He was -- as well as misbehavior before the enemy, a much rarer offense that carries a stiffer potential penalty in this case.

Bergdahl could face a life sentence if convicted of the charge, which accuses him of endangering fellow soldiers when he "left without authority; and wrongfully caused search and recovery operations."

Observers say the misbehavior charge allows authorities to allege that Bergdahl not only left his unit with one less soldier, but that his deliberate action put soldiers who searched for him in harm's way. The Pentagon has said there is no evidence anyone died searching for Bergdahl.

"You're able to say that what he did had a particular impact or put particular people at risk. It is less generic than just quitting," said Lawrence Morris, a retired Army colonel who served as the branch's top prosecutor and top public defender.

The Obama administration has been criticized both for agreeing to release five Taliban operatives from the Guantanamo Bay prison and for heralding Bergdahl's return to the U.S. with an announcement in the White House Rose Garden. The administration stood by the way it secured his release even after the charges were announced.

The military has scheduled an initial court appearance hearing for Bergdahl on Sept. 17 at Fort Sam Houston, Texas. Afterward the case could be referred to a court-martial and go to trial.



Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, the soldier who left his post in Afghanistan and was held by the Taliban for five years, is asking a military appellate court to disqualify the general with discretion in his case.

Bergdahl's attorney, Eugene Fidell, says Bergdahl filed the request Friday in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces in Washington.   

Bergdahl wants the court to disqualify Gen. Mark Milley because he has a personal interest in being confirmed as the next Army chief of staff.

Bergdahl, who is charged with desertion, was exchanged last year for five senior Taliban officials held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Bergdahl's preliminary hearing, which is similar to a civilian grand jury, is set for September. From there, his case could be referred for trial.


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