- - Wednesday, December 15, 2010


Verdict delayed in Khodorkovsky case

MOSCOW | A Russian judge on Wednesday postponed the long-awaited verdict in the second trial of jailed oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, a case that has come to define Russia under Vladimir Putin.

A court spokeswoman said Judge Viktor Danilkin gave no reason for postponing the reading of the verdict, which is now set to begin Dec. 27.

Hundreds of Khodorkovsky supporters rallied outside the courthouse, holding up signs urging the judge to “show courage” or appealing to President Dmitry Medvedev to free himself from Mr. Putin’s hold and follow up on promises to improve Russia’s legal system.

Mr. Khodorkovsky, 47, was Russia’s richest man when he was arrested in 2003 and then convicted of underpaying taxes on the profits from his Yukos oil company. The politically driven case was seen as punishment for daring to challenge Mr. Putin’s political and economic power, in part by funding opposition parties in parliament.


Court: Brazil must void abuses amnesty

RIO DE JANEIRO | The Western Hemisphere’s top human rights court says Brazil must throw out an amnesty granted for crimes committed during its two decades of military dictatorship.

The ruling issued Tuesday by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights held the Brazilian government responsible for the forced disappearance of 62 reputed members of the Araguaia guerrilla movement - a small armed band of communists crushed by military operations between 1972 and 1975.

Only about 20 members of the group survived. One of them is Jose Genoino, who later headed the ruling Workers Party of President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and President-elect Dilma Rousseff, herself a survivor of torture in the dictatorship’s prisons.

Brazil’s amnesty law, passed in 1979, barred prosecution of both government agents and leftist militants who committed politically related crimes during the 1964-1985 military regime. The law was recently upheld by Brazil’s supreme court.


Argentina chided for financial system

BUENOS AIRES | Argentina has done so poorly in confronting money laundering and terrorism financing that it risks becoming the first G-20 nation on a blacklist of countries where financial transactions represent a high risk of criminal activity.

A multinational advisory group, acting on behalf of the Group of 20 industrial and emerging-market countries, said Wednesday that it would closely monitor promised reforms before deciding whether to put Argentina on the list next year.

The Financial Activity Task Force has recommended nearly a thousand changes in Argentina, whose large cash economy makes it relatively easy for criminals to mask the sources of their money. Failure to comply could lead to closer monitoring of international transactions, raising the costs of doing business in Argentina.


Soyuz crew lifts off for space station

BAIKONUR | Astronauts from the U.S., Russia and Italy blasted off into the darkness early Thursday, casting a warm orange glow over the chilly plains of Kazakhstan with their Soyuz spacecraft as they began a mission to the International Space Station.

Russia’s Dmitry Kondratyev, NASA astronaut Catherine Coleman and the European Space Agency’s Paolo Nespoli of Italy rode into space on the Soyuz TMA-20, which plans to dock at the orbiting laboratory on Friday.



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