Jo Cox’s killer refuses to give evidence

by Cormac Rae

 

The Old Bailey has heard today that Thomas Mair, 53, will not give evidence in his defence.

The victim’s husband Brendan Cox reacted on twitter to Thomas Mair’s decision:

The Labour MP for West Yorkshire was murdered outside a constituency surgery, serving her community and listening to local concerns.

Jeremy Corbyn, Leader of the Labour party posted this tribute on July 15th, the date of Mrs Cox’s funeral.

[Read more…]

How Pistorius’s verdict reflects on South African legal system and what lies ahead for his sentencing

Yesterday morning, Pistorius’s culpable homicide conviction was replaced with murder, two legal experts give their opinion on the ruling and what lies ahead for his sentencing.

The South African Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) ruled that Pistorius should have foreseen the deadly impact his four bullets would have had in the small bathroom.

The new ruling over turns the decision made by Judge Masipa of the High Court.

Commenting  on the previous ruling Justice Eric Leach of the SCA called Masipa’s decision a “fundamental error.”

When asked how the change in verdict reflects on the South African justice system, Professor Penelope Andrews, Dean of the Law Faculty at the University of Cape Town said: “This should not be seen to be as an adverse comment upon Masipa’s  competence and ability.”

She went on to say: “Lots of judges decisions are over turned in the appeal process that’s why the process exists, the fact that a judge may not have applied the facts properly does not mean the South African criminal justice system is a mess.”

Commenting on the new verdict Prof. Andrews said: “The judges who dealt with the appeal at the Supreme Court were spot on, so I think that has shown how good our criminal justice system is and more importantly that it is fair.

“As an accused you know you can take the matter further or the state can, if there are sufficient grounds based on the law.”

Commenting on his reaction to the verdict Dr. Mohamed Chiktay Senior Lecturer at WITS University School of Law (Johannesburg) said: “Masipa showed restraint and dealt with the case in a professional manner but at the end of the day when you look at the facts and the law, it is quite evident where she went off in the wrong direction.

“She incorrectly dealt with the concept of doulas intervenciones.”

Commenting on Pistorius’s re-sentencing  Dr.  Chiktay said: “Sentencing will be a difficult aspect of the case, the judge will have to be objective and balance all the factors that are relevant like his disability, age and the fact that he has no prior convictions.”

Prof. Andrews said: “Pistorius will have to supply a compelling reason as to why he should not be sentenced to a minimum of 15 years in jail, his disability should not affect his sentencing, one cannot give leniency to anyone who killed a person without any proof that they posed a real threat.”

This morning Barry Steenkamp, Reeva Steenkamp’s farther said: “We will have to wait and see what happens at sentencing but for now justice has prevailed and we can try get on with our lives for now.”

Knox appeal adjourned

by Katy Docherty

Amanda Knox is starting an appeal against her conviction of the murder of British student Meredith Kercher. Knox’s lawyers argue that there are various gaps in the prosecution’s argument and are seeking a full review of the original DNA evidence.

Knox was convicted of murder and sexual assault in 2007. Source: Getty Images

Last year an Italian court found Knox guilty for the murder and sexual assault of her flatmate and sentenced to 26 years in prison. Knox’s lawyers claim that the DNA gathered for the original trial was questionable and that the murder weapon remains missing. Their main argument is that there was no motive for Knox to kill her friend. 

Her legal team stated: “The motive, the fundamental aspect of the factual existence of the serious criminal acts, is largely absent in the assessment of evidence and more erroneously absent in the written ruling.”

Her lawyers also blame an “obscene media campaign”  for skewing the opinion of the jury and the general public before the trial had begun. Knox was famously dubbed by the media as “Foxy Knoxy”.

The prosecution accused Knox of killing Kercher in a drug-fueled sex game that went wrong. Knox’s former boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito and Rudy Guede, an immigrant from the Ivory Coast had allegedly held Kercher down whilst Knox slit her throat. Knox’s prosecutors told the court that she had tried to a fake a break in so that the murder would look like a random sexual assault.

Arriving at the hearing, her stepfather Chris Mellas told reporters: “She’s hopeful for a good appeal, I think she feels and certainly the lawyers feel that we have a very strong case for her being innocent, which, you know, is the case.”

Today’s  administrative hearing lasted only a few minutes and took place in the Perugia courtroom were the first trial took place. 

The court has been adjourned until 11th December.

Contraceptive For Men

By Lauren Gelling

Image courtesy of BBC NEWS

Image courtesy of BBC NEWS

A new form contraceptive is being offered to men across south-east Scotland.

Scientists from Edinburgh University, in conjunction with the World Health Organisation, are looking for twenty couples to try the injection for one year.

The jab, which is said to be better than condoms at preventing pregnancy and just as effective as the female contraceptive pill, will be given to the male every two months.  It contains the hormones testosterone and progesterone to decrease the sperm count, however, scientists say that the effects are fully reversible.  It is hoped that the method may become more available if trials are successful.

The overall study will monitor 400 couples, with ten centres across Europe, Asia, South America and Australia.  The ideal candidates are men under 45 and women under 37.

Dr Alison Douglas, from the University of Edinburgh’s Centre of Integrative Physiology, said:  “Preliminary trials indicate that this is a valid alternative to the female contraceptive pill and this new trial will establish whether longer acting injections will be practical and usable for couples in the future.”

A spokesperson at the Family Planning Association said:  “It is important that research continues to try and give men more contraceptive choice.  But it is crucial that any new contraceptive is rigorously tested to make sure it is safe and effective.”

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