Pakistan's Supreme Court ruled May 25 that the cleric accused by India of plotting the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks cannot be imprisoned due to lack of evidence. Hafiz Muhammad Saeed is the head of Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), which was allegedly behind the attacks. Pakistan put Saeed under virtual house arrest one month after the onslaught, where he remained except for a three-month period last summer, but the Lahore High Court ordered his release in October. The Supreme Court's ruling could strain the already fragile relationship between India and Pakistan, which recently started peace talks.
The US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled May 21 in al-Maqaleh v. Gates that detainees held at Bagram Air Force Base in Afghanistan cannot bring habeas corpus challenges in US courts. The circuit court reversed the district court's ruling, which allowed habeas challenges by three Bagram detainees pursuant to the Supreme Court's test in Boumediene v. Bush. Chief Judge David B. Sentelle, delivering the opinion of the three-judge panel, stated that the district court underestimated the significance of Bagram being located in an area of armed conflict, which differentiates the defendants' jurisdictional status from those detained at Guantánamo Bay. The court held that the current case is more comparable to 1950's Johnson v. Eisentrager, where the Supreme Court ruled that US courts had no jurisdiction over war criminals held in a US-administered German prison.
The government of Thailand on May 19 imposed a curfew on Bangkok and other areas of the country even as leaders of the United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship, also known as the Red Shirts, announced an end to the two-month long conflict in Bangkok and surrendered to police. Members of the Red Shirts, known for supporting ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, refused to accept the end of the demonstrations and began setting fire to parts of Bangkok.
Iraq's Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC) announced on May 16 that the partial recount of the March parliamentary elections will not alter seat allocations awarded in accordance with the provisional results. The commission held that the original count showed no signs of fraud or major irregularities, and confirmed the two-seat lead of the the Iraqiya coalition of Iyad Allawi over al-Maliki's State of Law coalition.
A lawyer from Spain's National Court Office of the Prosecutor on May 12 petitioned judge Ismael Moreno to issue arrest warrants for 13 CIA agents who allegedly kidnapped a German citizen of Lebanese descent in 2003 as part of the Bush administration's "extraordinary rendition" program. Khaled el-Masri claims that the CIA kidnapped him while he was traveling to Macedonia in 2003 and transported him to a secret detention facility in Afghanistan where he was held for four months. The Office of the Prosecutor alleges that the court has jurisdiction to issue the warrants because the agents made a stop in Spanish territory using hidden identities without official Spanish government authorization to do so.
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has confirmed the existence of a secret US detention facility at Afghanistan's Bagram Air Base, according to a May 11 BBC News report. Last month, BBC News reported that nine Afghan witnesses claimed that they were held and tortured in a secret US prison at Bagram. The witnesses say that they were captured by US forces and taken to a secret location where they were abused and interrogated, then later transported to an official detention facility in Parwan, a new prison recently opened at the edge of Bagram Air Base. Torture allegations include sleep deprivation, disorientation, beating, and humiliation tactics. The US continues to deny the existence of secret prisons in Afghanistan.
A Virginia military jury on May 6 acquitted US Navy SEAL Matthew McCabe on charges of assaulting a high-profile Iraqi detainee. Petty Officer 2nd Class McCabe was accused of punching Ahmed Hashim Abed, implicated in the killing of four American contractors in Fallujah in 2004. McCabe was charged with assault, dereliction of duty, and lying to investigators, and he could have faced up to a year in prison if convicted. The prosecution's key witness testified that he saw McCabe punch Abed, but the testimony was contradicted by several defense witnesses. The jury deliberated for an hour and 40 minutes before returning a verdict of not guilty.
The Spanish government on May 6 extradited pilot Julio Alberto Poch to Argentina to face trial for his alleged role in the nation's 1976-83 "Dirty War." Poch was a navy officer at Argentina's Naval Mechanics School, one of the most notorious detention centers of the military dictatorship, and is believed to have piloted flights known as "death flights," which were used to dump the military junta's political opponents into the Plata River and the Atlantic Ocean. Poch holds dual Dutch and Argentine citizenship, which had protected him from earlier attempts at extradition, but he was arrested and imprisoned last September when he landed in Valencia while en route to the Netherlands. A Spanish court agreed to his extradition in January, finding that there are adequate measures in place to guarantee that Poch will receive a fair trial in Argentina. Poch continues to deny the charges against him.