Friday, January 8, 2010

Continuing Trouble in South Sudan, Danish Cartoons Back in Spotlight, Honduras Prosecutor Seeks Military Arrests

I've been concerned about southern Sudan, where I was in 2006, especially now that the Khartoum government is trying to renig on the peace accords signed in 2005. Just heard a report that 2,500 people were killed in southern Sudan in 2009 and the killing is continuing into 2010. The Khartoum government is trying to derail the upcoming referendum because of the south's oil, knowing that the vote will surely result in an almost 99% victory for cession of south from north, and is fomenting strife among the southern factions, trying to use that as an excuse for delaying the vote. Remembering my visit to southern Sudan, courtesy of the Sudanese Liberation Army, I’m distressed to think that all the arduous progress made since the 2005 peace accords could become instantly destroyed in a new civil war. Civilians, some recently returned from exile and starting out anew, would be caught up n the crossfire or would side with the rebels, making them targets, just as in Darfur. What to do is the question. No effective action has yet been taken on Darfur after several years of world attention. I'm afraid we're going to see Darfur and the south under attack together from Khartoum.

Readers may recall that some time ago, I attended a discussion at the Hudson Institute with Danish author Jyette Lausen on her book, The Cartoons that Shook the World. Now, with the recent, attempt to attack one of the Danish cartoonists in his home, C-SPAN is airing that discussion on Sunday, Jan. 10 at 8:30 am and Monday Jan. 11 at 5:30am.

Zelaya: charges against army officers 'a trick'
Associated Press
Thursday, January 7, 2010

TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras -- Ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya said Thursday that charging military commanders with abuse of power is "a trick" to avoid punishing them for the June 28 coup. Zelaya said the nation's top prosecutor is trying to avoid bringing to justice the army officers who rousted him out of his home at gunpoint and other officials who planned and ordered his ouster from the presidency. "It's a trick from prosecutors to charge the army officers with a minor crime instead of with the grave crimes they committed," Zelaya said in a statement. He said they should be charged with treason, murder and human rights violations.

Honduras' chief prosecutor Luis Alberto Rubi on Wednesday asked the Supreme Court to issue arrest warrants charging all six members of the Joint Chief of Staff with abuse of power for sending Zelaya out of the country - but not for removing him from office. The charge carries a maximum sentence of four years in prison.

Defenders of Zelaya's ouster argue that he violated the country's constitution, meriting removal from office, and say that the army's move to arrest him was legally backed by the Congress and the Supreme Court. But they have often acknowledged that it was also a violation of the constitution for the military to send him out of the country.

The court has yet to decide whether to grant Rubi's request.
Honduras Prosecutor Seeks Charges Against Military
Associated Press, Jan, 6, 2010

TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras - The chief prosecutor asked the Supreme Court on Wednesday to issue arrest warrants charging Honduras' military commanders with abuse of power for sending President Manuel Zelaya out of the country in his June 28 ouster. The court will have three days to decide whether to grant the request from prosecutor Luis Alberto Rubi. It would be the first legal action taken against the armed forces since soldiers rousted Zelaya out of his home at gunpoint and forced him aboard a flight to Costa Rica.

The measure could be largely cosmetic. The high court has repeatedly ruled or advised against reinstating Zelaya as president. It has also said he faces charges of treason and abuse of power, in large part for disobeying court orders to drop a plan to hold a referendum on changing the constitution. Moreover, President-elect Porfirio Lobo, who won the Nov. 29 election to succeed Zelaya, has said he supports granting amnesty both to Zelaya and to all of those involved in the coup.

Zelaya's critics say he was removed because of his defiance of the court orders against the constitutional referendum. Zelaya says he was ousted because he was trying to bring more equality to this poor Central American nation.

If the Supreme Court agreed to charge the military officers, their case would be heard by one of the court's 15 magistrates. Those named by the prosecutor include the head of the armed forces, Gen. Romeo Vasquez, and five other top-ranking military officers, including air force chief Gen. Javier Prince and navy commander Gen. Juan Pablo Rodriguez. The charge carries possible prison terms of three to four years. ''We have not received any legal notification, but we are prepared to defend ourselves in court,'' Rodriguez told The Associated Press.

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