09/26/13: The New York Times reports a panel of appeals judges upheld a 50-year jail sentence on Thursday against Charles G. Taylor, the former president of Liberia, on charges of committing war crimes and crimes against humanity in a case that had been cast as a watershed for modern human rights law. After a lengthy summimng-up of appeals by the defense and the prosecution, the judges ruled that Mr. Taylor’s sentencing had been “fair and reasonable,” rejecting a prosecution appeal for his jail term to be extended to 80 years. Mr. Taylor was found guilty in April 2012 on all counts of an 11-count indictment alleging war crimes and crimes against humanity relating to his role in aiding murderous rebels who committed atrocities in Sierra Leone during its civil war in the 1990s. He was accused of fomenting widespread brutality that included murder, rape, the use of child soldiers, the mutilation of thousands of civilians and the mining of diamonds to pay for guns and ammunition. In May 2012 he was sentenced to 50 years in prison — the first former head of state convicted by an international tribunal since the Nuremberg trials in Germany after World War II. The defense had appealed against the verdict and sentence on 42 grounds, arguing that the Special Court on Sierra Leone had made “systematic errors in the evaluation of evidence and in the application of law” sufficiently serious to “reverse all findings of guilt entered against him,” the United Nations-backed tribunal said in a statement summing up the case. Defense lawyers also argued that the sentence was “manifestly unreasonable.”
09/25/13: The New York Times reports lmost a year after Hurricane Sandy, hundreds of displaced New Yorkers living in hotels face eviction. Many of them have or are applying for federal rental subsidies, but finding affordable apartments has proved daunting. A few of those still in hotels are homeowners whose houses have not yet been repaired. But saying there is no longer money for hotel stays, lawyers for the city went to court on Tuesday trying to evict the approximately 350 remaining evacuees by Oct. 1 and steer them into homeless shelters. The lawyers said that FEMA would end reimbursements to the city for the hotel program on Monday and that the city did not have the money to put up the last evacuees while they look for housing. The hotels in the city program have cost the federal government more than $73 million so far.