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Feb. 28, 2009

International News for Feb. 14 - Feb. 27

by Alisa Lu, Online News Editor
This is not original reporting. All information has been compiled from CNN, BBC and the Wall Street Journal. Silver Chips Online posts this news summary to provide readers with a forum for discussion.

Feb. 17 - An Italian court sentenced British lawyer David Mills to four-and-a-half years in prison for accepting a bribe from Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi during Berlusconi's corruption trials in 1997 and 1998. Mills, one of Berlusconi's consultants on tax havens, allegedly accepted £400,000 from Berlusconi to lie on the witness stand.

Berlusconi was accused of not disclosing details of offshore banking accounts but became immune from corruption charges after passing a law granting immunity to the top four officials in Italy, including himself. However, he can be prosecuted once he leaves office if the statute of limitations has not expired by that time.

Feb. 15 - Venezuelan voters passed a referendum to remove term limits for elected officials, which would allow current President Hugo Chavez to run for office again in 2012. Chavez is currently serving his second term in office and has served as President of Venezuela for nine years. In 2007, a similar referendum failed but voter turnout exceeded expectation this year as 11 million people voted out of 17 million eligible voters. Election observers from around the world have judged that the election was free and fair, but opposition leaders claim that the state-controlled media influenced the citizens too much.

Feb. 17 - Kaing Guek Eav became the first member of an ultra-Maoist regime to stand trial before a United Nations-affiliated tribunal. The Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, a U.N. backed-tribunal comprised of Cambodian and international judges, is questioning Eav on his activities in Cambodia’s Khmer Rouge regime. Eav is accused of committing crimes against humanity and breaking the 1949 Geneva Convention.

The Khmer Rouge regime ruled from 1975 to 1979, during which 1.7 million Cambodians - one-fourth of the population - died from execution, disease, starvation and overwork. Eav ran the Tuol Sleng prison and led the Santebal, which was in charge of internal security and prison camps. The trial is expected to last three or four months and Eav could be sentenced to life in prison.

Feb. 19 - A Russian court deemed Sergei Khadzhikurbanov and brothers Dzhabrail and Ibragim Makhmudov innocent in the murder of Russian investigative journalist Anna Politkovskaya. The three men were accused of being accomplices in Politkovskaya’s murder. Politkovskaya, famous for exposing the army's abuses of human rights in Chechnya, was gunned down in her Moscow apartment in Oct. 2006. Rustam Makhudov, the accused gunman, is allegedly living at-large in Western Europe.

Politkovskaya was the 13th journalist to be killed during current Prime Minster and former President Vladimir Putin's presidency.

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