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English Premier League: Adam Johnson jailed for six years

(CNN) Former England soccer star Adam Johnson has been jailed for six years after being found guilty of three child sex charges.

Prosecutors told Bradford Crown Court the 28-year-old's offenses were "calculated, considered and carefully orchestrated," according to a report by the UK's Press Association.

Prosecuting lawyer Kate Blackwell said the victim, who was 15 at the time, had suffered "severe psychological harm." In a statement the victim said she'd "entered many dark places" in the past year.

Sacked by English Premier League club Sunderland in the wake of his conviction, Johnson admitted to grooming a girl under the age of 16 and one charge of sexual activity but was found guilty of a further charge he had contested.

They related to an incident in Johnson's car on January 30, 2015, after he met up with the girl -- a Sunderland fan. Police said Johnson initially told them he was unaware of the girl's true age and claimed he only kissed her.

The girl told the court that Johnson put his hands down her pants and that she performed an oral sex act on him. The charge related to the girl performing oral sex on him wasn't proved and Johnson was cleared.

"Compulsive" attitude to sex

The sentencing judge, Jonathan Rose, told Johnson: "You made a deliberate decision to engage in sexual activity with this young girl, no doubt in the expectation that you would get away with it.

"The offenses happened at a time when you were engaged in frequent sexual intercourse with multiple partners."

Johnson's partner Stacey Flounders, with whom he has a one-year-old daughter, was not present in court. She earlier told the trial they were no longer a couple.

Rose added that Johnson had "every opportunity" to enter guilty pleas to the charges he admitted once the trial had started and that decision meant the girl had to endure a year of being called a liar.

The aggravating factors included Johnson's insistence their messages on social media were disposed of, the secluded location of the offense and his attempts to prevent the girl from reporting the matter.

Johnson was also ordered to pay £50,000 ($70,000) of the prosecution's costs, which totaled £67,132 ($94,709).

Prison would offer "relief"

Johnson's defense team said he had "a compulsive attitude towards engaging in sexual activity," and that he had been stripped of his 12 England caps and nationally humiliated.

A doctor's report read out in court quoted Johnson as saying: "Being in prison would offer some relief. I just want to let people I have hurt get on with their lives."

Aelfwynn Sampson, a detective with Durham Constabulary police in the region, told reporters after the verdict: "This girl should have been safe but she was used by the public figure she looked up to most.

"Fame, celebrity and a position of power does not give you the right to break the law in pursuit of whatever you desire. I hope today will bring some closure for her and her family."

Prior to Johnson's sentencing, the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) urged the Football Association -- English football's governing body -- to take the issue more seriously.

Its chief executive, Peter Wanless, said urgent action was required to ensure the Johnson case was not symptomatic of a "cultural problem within football."

Johnson's sister, who set up a support group for her brother on Facebook in the wake of his conviction, said she wouldn't be attending sentencing.

She maintained she was 100% behind him and said it was "the worst day of my life." She added: "I just don't want him to see the pain in my eyes!"

England international

Johnson, who made the last of his 12 appearances for England in August 2012, was arrested in March 2015 and was initially suspended by Sunderland before returning to the team a fortnight later.

Sunderland, which had initially declined to comment on the grounds the case was ongoing, then chose to sack the midfielder last month in light of his guilty plea.

The club sought to clarify its stance, saying had it known that Johnson would plead guilty at any time it would have terminated his employment "immediately."

"This has been an extremely difficult time for all involved," Sunderland said in a statement on its website. "The victim and her family have endured an unimaginable ordeal in the last 12 months and we trust that they will now be allowed to move on with their lives without further intrusion or public scrutiny."

The club's chief executive Margaret Byrne resigned after it emerged she knew a year before the trial that Johnson had kissed the 15-year-old and sent explicit messages to her but allowed him to carry on playing.

Sportswear firm Adidas also confirmed to CNN last month that it had terminated its sponsorship deal with the player following his guilty plea.

Johnson began his career at Middlesbrough before moving to Manchester City and then to Sunderland. While playing for City between 2010 and 2012, Johnson won the Premier League title and the FA Cup.

Source: CNN News (24/03/2016).

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Former Bosnian Serb leader Karadzic convicted of genocide, crimes against humanity

Trial Chamber III of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) today convicted Radovan Karadžić, former President of Republika Srpska (RS) and Supreme Commander of its armed forces, of genocide, crimes against humanity and violations of the laws or customs of war committed by Serb forces during the armed conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), from 1992 until 1995. He was sentenced to 40 years’ imprisonment.

Karadžić was convicted of genocide in the area of Srebrenica in 1995, of persecution, extermination, murder, deportation, inhumane acts (forcible transfer), terror, unlawful attacks on civilians and hostage-taking. He was acquitted of the charge of genocide in other municipalities in BiH in 1992. 

The Chamber found that Karadžić committed these crimes through his participation in four joint criminal enterprises (JCE).

The Overarching JCE, which existed between October 1991 and November 1995, included a common plan to permanently remove Bosnian Muslims and Bosnian Croats from Bosnian Serb-claimed territory through the commission of crimes in municipalities throughout BiH (Municipalities).

The Chamber found that a vast number of Bosnian Muslims and Bosnian Croats in the Municipalities were forcibly displaced from their homes by Serb Forces. Other victims were arrested, detained in detention facilities, often under inhumane living conditions, subjected to torture, beatings, rape and other acts of sexual violence, and then transported out of the Municipalities. Serb Forces also killed many Bosnian Muslims and Bosnian Croats during and after the take-over of the Municipalities, in mass executions or following attacks on non-Serb villages.

Karadžić significantly contributed to the Overarching JCE. Karadžić was at the forefront of developing the ideology and policies which led to the creation of a largely ethnically homogeneous Bosnian Serb state through the commission of crimes. By being at the apex of political, governmental, and military structures he was able to use his power and influence to further the objective of the Overarching JCE.

The Chamber found that, in relation to the Municipalities, Karadžić is guilty of persecution, extermination, deportation, forcible transfer and murder. The Chamber was, however, unable to identify or infer genocidal intent and therefore did not have sufficient evidence to find, beyond reasonable doubt, that genocide was committed in the Municipalities.

The Judges also found that between April 1992 and November 1995 Karadžić participated in a JCE to establish and carry out a campaign of sniping and shelling against the civilian population of Sarajevo, aimed to spread terror among the civilian citizens (Sarajevo JCE).

During this period the Army of Republika Srpska (VRS) deliberately sniped and shelled civilians in Sarajevo on an almost daily basis throughout the conflict. “Sarajevo civilians were sniped while fetching water, walking in the city, and when using public transport.  Children were sniped at while playing in front of their houses, walking with their parents or walking home from school” said the Presiding Judge Kwon.

The Chamber found that Karadžić significantly contributed to the Sarajevo JCE, both as the highest political authority in RS and Supreme Commander of the VRS. Having control over the VRS throughout the conflict, he was directly involved in military matters in Sarajevo and issued many orders at the strategic and at the operational level. Karadžić used the campaign of sniping and shelling, causing terror among the civilian population in Sarajevo, as a means of exerting pressure on the Bosnian Muslim leaders and the international community in pursuit of his political goals.

The judges concluded that Karadžić is guilty of unlawful attacks on civilians, murder and terror.

The Chamber also established that a JCE existed with the common purpose of taking UN personnel hostage in order to compel NATO to abstain from conducting air strikes against Bosnian Serb targets (Hostages JCE).

To this end, between approximately 26 May and 19 June 1995, UN personnel were detained by Bosnian Serb Forces and taken to various locations throughout BiH. Some were handcuffed outside locations of military significance. Not only did Karadžić intend to detain the UN personnel but he also intended for threats to be issued against them during their detention in order to achieve the objective of stopping the NATO air strikes.

The judges concluded that Karadžić significantly contributed to the common purpose of the Hostages JCE and that he is therefore guilty of the crime of taking hostages.

Further, the Chamber found that in 1995 Karadžić participated in a JCE to eliminate the Bosnian Muslims in Srebrenica (Srebrenica JCE).

Following the take-over of Srebrenica by the VRS in July 1995, ordered by Karadžić, approximately 30,000 Bosnian Muslim women, children, and elderly men were forcibly removed from the enclave to Bosnian Muslim-held territory. The Chamber found that Karadžić had the intent to permanently and forcibly remove the Bosnian Muslim population from Srebrenica.

After the take-over, Bosnian Serb Forces detained the Bosnian Muslim men and boys in a number of locations in the area. Beginning on 13 July 1995 and over the following days, the detained men were taken to nearby sites where they were executed. 

“As the President of the RS and Supreme Commander of the VRS, the Accused was the sole person within the RS with the power to intervene to prevent the Bosnian Muslim males from being killed” Presiding Judge Kwon said. Instead, Karadžić himself ordered that the Bosnian Muslim male detainees who were then being held in Bratunac be transferred elsewhere to be killed. The Chamber concluded that Karadžić shared with Ratko Mladić and others the intent that every able-bodied Bosnian Muslim male from Srebrenica be killed, which amounts to the intent to destroy the Bosnian Muslims in Srebrenica as such.

The Chamber concluded that Karadžić is guilty of genocide in Srebrenica, on the basis of his participation in, and contribution to, the JCE.

Parties have the right to appeal the judgement.

Karadžić is entitled to credit for time spent in detention thus far. He has been in custody since 21 July 2008.

The Trial Chamber was composed of Judge O-Gon Kwon, Presiding Judge, Judge Howard Morrison, Judge Melville Baird and Judge Flavia Lattanzi, Reserve Judge.

The trial commenced on 26 October 2009 and lasted a total of 498 days during which 11,500 exhibits were admitted. The Trial Chamber took the testimony of a total of 586 witnesses of which 337 witnesses were called by the Prosecution, 248 by the Defence and 1 by the Trial Chamber.

Since its establishment, the Tribunal has indicted 161 persons for serious violations of humanitarian law committed on the territory of the former Yugoslavia between 1991 and 2001. Proceedings against 149 have been concluded. Proceedings are currently ongoing for 12 accused.

Source: ICTY's Press release, The Hague, 24 March 2016.

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Israel Supreme Court reduces prison sentence for former PM Olmert

Israel's Supreme Court on Tuesday reduced the prison sentence of former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert from six years to 18 months. 

Olmert was convicted in March 2014 and sentenced to six years imprisonment on several charges dealing with bribery. The ruling by the court overturned the main bribery charge but upheld the lesser charge of taking a 60,000 shekel (USD $15,000) bribe. His sentence was postponed pending the appeal of his conviction. Olmert was accused of accepting money to promote a real-estate project in Jerusalem when he was mayor and the country's trade minister. He was forced to resign in 2009 amid the bribery charges, but has always denied any wrongdoing on his part. Olmert is scheduled to begin his reduced sentence on February 15.

In July 2012 Olmert was acquitted of two major counts of corruption but found guilty of a third lesser charge in the culmination of a three-year trial. In a 700-page ruling, three senior judges of a Jerusalem court rejected the prosecution's key accusations that as a cabinet minister and Jerusalem's mayor before becoming Prime Minister Olmert received bribes from US businessman Moshe Talansky, and that Olmert defrauded Israeli charities by double-billing them for overseas fundraising trips, a charge popularly referred to as the Rishon Tours double-billing affair. Olmert was convicted of breach of trust for granting illegal favors to a long-time friend and business partner while serving as minister of industry, trade and labor between 2002 and 2007. In September 2012 the court sentenced Olmert to a one-year suspended sentence and a fine of about $19,000 for the charge of breaching public trust.

Source: JURIST 

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