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Israel court sentences head of international NGO in Gaza for embezzling $50 million to fund Hamas – JURIST

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Israel’s Beersheba District Court has sentenced the Gaza manager of the international NGO World Vision for operations to divert funds from the organization to the Palestinian militant group Hamas. Mohammad El Halabi was arrested and accused in 2016, among others, of belonging to a terrorist group,[transmitting] information to the enemy,” and embezzling aid funds to the tune of $50 million over the span of a few years to finance Hamas’s military wing. On Wednesday, Halabi was found guilty on 13 of the 14 charges against him. In particular, the court found that he imported materials such as iron ore for Hamas, which has ruled Gaza since 2007, to build tunnels. World Vision’s work in Gaza has been suspended since Halabi’s arrest. Audits commissioned by the Christian humanitarian organization, as well as by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs, which is one of the NGO’s largest donors, found no irregularities in the disbursement of donated funds or evidence of Halabi’s involvement with Hamas. . World Vision stated that its total budget for Gaza in the previous decade was $22.5 million, its Jerusalem office handled large bids for Gaza contracts, and it did not import or purchase iron ore from Gaza. Following the conviction, the organization called for a “fair and transparent appeal process based on the facts of the case,” citing “irregularities in the trial process and lack of publicly available substantive evidence.” The evidence against Halabi and the ruling are both classified. Halabi confessed to Israel’s Shin Bet intelligence service, but later rescinded the confession. He has maintained his innocence, stating that the confession was obtained under duress, but the court relied heavily on this confession. Halabi refused to accept any plea deal. Since Halabi’s arrest, rights organizations have raised concerns about a fair trial, including access to legal assistance during the first weeks of her detention and denial of bail, along with secret evidence, and call for a new judgment. respecting their rights to a fair trial or freedom. Following the conviction, three UN special rapporteurs said that to obtain the confession, Halabi was subjected to conditions that may amount to torture. They said: Mr. el-Halabi’s trial demonstrated a serious disregard for fair trial guarantees, including the widespread use of secret evidence against him, restricted communication with his lawyer, lack of time and obstacles posed for the preparation of his defense and the impossibility of trying him without undue delay. While indicating his support for humanitarian organizations, the Israeli Foreign Ministry said: Any diversion of humanitarian funds for terrorist purposes is a reprehensible act committed at the expense of the welfare of the Palestinian residents of Gaza. Israel will continue to use the tools at its disposal to prevent such crimes and hold Hamas and other terrorist groups accountable for perpetrating them. At the end of this month, a Jerusalem court will rule on the dissolution of World Vision’s operations in Israel. Last year, the country designated six of some of the most prominent Palestinian rights groups as “terrorist organizations.” Halabi plans to appeal his conviction after sentencing, which will take place on July 10.

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German court sentences 101-year-old former Nazi concentration camp guard to 5 years in prison – JURIST

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Germany’s Neuruppin Regional Court in Brandenburg on Tuesday convicted a 101-year-old former Nazi concentration camp guard of 3,518 counts of accessory to murder and sentenced him to five years in prison. Former SS guard Josef Schuetz was indicted for his involvement in the “execution by firing squad of Soviet prisoners of war in 1942” and for operating the gas chambers at the Sachsenhausen concentration camp. Josef denied all the alleged charges and claimed that he worked as a farm laborer near Pasewalk in northeast Germany. However, the court began the trial last year in October. Judge Udo Lechtermann noted that the defendant “voluntarily supported mass extermination” in his role. He further said: The court is satisfied that you worked as a guard in the concentration camp for about three years, despite your claims to the contrary. You saw how deported people were cruelly tortured and killed there every day for three years. Sachsenhausen saw 200,000 people imprisoned, with at least 30,000 deaths. Joseph is considered the oldest person to be convicted of Holocaust crimes. Previously, a 93-year-old former guard was convicted of 5,232 murders and a 95-year-old former field secretary was charged with 10,000 counts of accessory to murder, rulings pending. Joseph can appeal his sentence to the Federal Court of Justice within a week.

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UN Fact Finding Mission reports serious human rights violations in Libya – JURIST

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The UN Independent Fact Finding Mission (IFFM) on Libya reported Wednesday that Libyan authorities have committed crimes against humanity, war crimes and serious human rights violations under international law. The FFM was formed in June 2020 to document human rights violations in Libya and to ensure that those responsible are held accountable. FFM conducted 103 interviews with victims and witnesses during its investigation. FFM documented 27 places of detention in the eastern and western parts of Libya and reported that migrants were subjected to the “systematic use of prolonged arbitrary detention”, including the detention of thousands of migrants in secret and extra-legal prisons. The report highlights the atrocities of women facing sexual violence by human smugglers and smugglers for extorting money from their families and documents more cases of rape in places of detention or captivity in which migrant women are forced to have sex. to survive, in exchange for food or other essential goods. articles.FFM with the use of UNOSAT satellite image-based analysis documented the atrocities during the reign of the Al-Kaniyat militia in Tarhuna, Tripolitania region, and reported the discovery of new uncovered mass graves.Mohammad Aujjar, president of the FFM He said: The mission calls on the international community to support the relevant Libyan authorities in conducting prompt investigations, in accordance with international standards, into the alleged violations and bringing those responsible to justice. The goal is to end the prevailing impunity in the face of clear and persistent patterns of serious human rights violations, in many cases perpetrated by militia groups… Now more than ever, the Libyan people need a strong commitment to help bring peace and justice to his country, and establish a state based on the rule of law and human rights. The FFM published its first report on Libya in October 2022, and then published a follow-up report in March 2022.

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Two more charged for the death of 53 migrants in Texas – JURIST

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US authorities on Wednesday charged two additional suspects in the deaths of several dozen immigrants whose bodies were discovered in a truck in San Antonio, Texas, on Monday. These latest charges are in addition to charges filed Tuesday against two men suspected of involvement in the incident. The San Antonio Police Department discovered a truck carrying about 100 immigrants across the border on Monday. Piles of bodies were found inside the truck with the remaining victims collapsed next to it. In total, 39 men and 12 women died in the incident. Charges were filed Wednesday against the alleged truck driver, Homero Zamorano, as well as an alleged co-conspirator, Christian Martinez. Zamorano was charged with one count of alien smuggling resulting in death, while Martinez was charged with a single count of conspiracy to transport illegal immigrants. Given the incident’s status as the deadliest migrant smuggling incident on record in the United States, the US Department of Justice announced that if the defendants are convicted, they will face life in prison or capital punishment. Due to the incident, Republican Texas Governor Greg Abbott told reporters at a Wednesday news conference that the state will immediately begin additional truck checkpoints like the one found in San Antonio to prevent a recurrence. a similar tragedy.

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