Chennai Court rejects plea from Douglas

Rejecting his request, IV additional sessions judge S Rajagopalan said his personal appearance before the court could not be dispensed with because of the police objection over his identification and the gravity of charges against him. “The petitioner has not complied with the order of the high court. Further, the respondent (police) clearly and categorically questioned the identification of the person accused. The NBW is pending for long time,” the judge said in his order. “Under these circumstances, after applying my judicial mind, it is concluded that the presence of the petitioner is essential, in order to ascertain his identity.” A Chennai sessions court on Thursday refused to revoke a non-bailable arrest warrant issued against Sri Lankan minister Douglas Devananda and turned down his offer to face the murder trial he faces in India through video-conferencing.Devananda and nine others are accused of firing on local residents and killing one person at Choolaimedu in Chennai in November 1986. All the 10 were arrested and charged with murder. A chargesheet was filed before the IV additional sessions court in 1987. As all of them absconded after being released on bail, the court declared them as proclaimed offenders in August 1994. The minister had approached the court seeking cancellation of the warrant and cited security threat to him and possible law and order problem in Tamil Nadu if he visited the state to attend the trial. Devananda sought the court’s permission to face trial through video-conferencing at the Indian high commission in Sri Lanka. Public prosecutor Prabhavathi assured that Devananda would get adequate police protection if he chose to attend the trial proceedings. But the minister’s counsel said the Tamil Nadu police were not as good in providing security as in conducting investigation, as was evident from the assassination of former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi.Besides the security threat, the Lankan minister cited his high constitutional position in Sri Lanka for his inability to attend the trial proceedings. (Times of India) read more

Palestinian Bedouin community faces demolition after Israeli court ruling warns UN rights

Spokesperson Liz Throssell said that the imminent destruction of buildings used by Khan al Ahmar al Helu residents comes after the Israeli High Court ruled against any further delay.“The community is home to 181 people – more than half of them children,” Ms Throssell told journalists in Geneva, noting that it is “at high risk of forcible transfer” owing to Israeli practices and policies “that coerce people and communities to move”.The Khan al Ahmar al Helu community has spent the last decade opposing the move in a part of the central West Bank called Area C.In total, around 7,000 people from 46 Bedouin communities live there “and we are concerned about all of them”, the OHCHR spokesperson said, noting that the community is located near existing “large Israeli settlements”.Describing Israel’s planning policy as “discriminatory” and incompatible with international law, Ms Throssell explained that “most properties are considered illegal” because planning permits are not granted to Palestinians in the area.  In an appeal to the Israeli authorities, the OHCHR spokesperson said that if the demolitions went ahead, “people would lose their homes, children would lose their schools” and residents “would lose their community”.Such a development would “likely amount to forced evictions” and violate the community’s right to housing, Ms Throssell said. She added that once demolitions take place, the community is expected to be encouraged to move about 10 kilometres away to a suburban area on the outskirts of East Jerusalem.Such a move is “not really appropriate for a community that has animals and needs grazing”, Ms Throssell said, adding that this had happened before, affecting 150 Bedouin Palestine refugee families between 1997 and 2007.“The demolition itself may not amount necessarily to forced eviction – the people may try to stay in the area,” she said. “But as you can imagine, it really increases the risk of forced transfer, so our main call to the Israelis, is not to proceed with the demolition of this community.”Ms Throssell added that international humanitarian law prohibits the forced transfer of the population of an occupied territory, regardless of the motive. read more