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Critics brand Harper government's victims bill of rights as political cynicism

MISSISSAUGA, Ont. - Crime victims would have more say as their cases wind their way through the justice system under a new Conservative government bill that veteran lawyers immediately denounced as crass politics. The long-awaited legislation, part of the government's ongoing law-and-order theme, aims to fix what Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Thursday was a broken part of the system. "The rights of criminals have received far more attention than the rights of their victims," Harper said at a seniors' centre.

Five things to know about the Conservatives' proposed new Victims Bill of Rights

OTTAWA - The Conservative government unveiled its long-awaited victims' rights bill on Thursday. Here are five things to take away from the legislation: 1. People could be compelled to testify in court against a spouse. The Canada Evidence Act currently gives spouses the right to refuse to testify, except in certain specific cases such as sexual assault or crimes against youngsters. The provision is based on the notion that a married couple is one person in the eyes of the law.

Pacific Gas and Electric charged with 12 criminal counts in fatal California pipeline inferno

SAN FRANCISCO - Pacific Gas and Electric Co. was charged Tuesday with U.S. felony counts involving safety violations linked to a deadly 2010 natural gas pipeline explosion in the San Francisco Bay Area. The indictment charges the utility with 12 felony violations of federal pipeline safety laws, which could carry a total possible fine of $6 million, or more if the court decides it somehow benefited financially from the disaster. U.S. prosecutors allege that PG Nearly four years later, the neighbourhood where eight were killed and dozens injured is still recovering.

Elections commissioner wants power to compel testimony from witnesses

OTTAWA - The man who investigates electoral fraud in Canada says some investigations will simply "abort" if he isn't given the power to compel testimony from witnesses. Yves Cote, the commissioner of elections, provided another direct critique of the Conservative government's electoral reform bill in testimony to a parliamentary committee Tuesday evening. The bill makes sweeping changes to how elections are conducted and funded by provides Elections Canada with no new powers to investigate problems.

Conservatives to roll out Victims Bill of Rights within "next few days," MacKay

OTTAWA - A long-promised victim's bill of rights is about to be introduced in Parliament, The Canadian Press has learned. The arrival of the legislation is bound to drive another political lightning rod into the already fractured ground in the House of Commons. Justice Minister Peter MacKay, in a letter to the Conservative caucus on Sunday, said he looks forward to delivering on the throne speech commitment "over the next few days."

Angelina Jolie pays respect to Srebrenica victims

Hollywood star Angelina Jolie on Friday paid respect to victims of the 1995 Srebrenica massacre after urging the international community to stop the use of sexual violence as a war weapon. Jolie was accompanied to the ill-fated town by British Foreign Minister William Hague, while on a trip to Bosnia. At the Srebrenica memorial centre museum, Jolie and Hague met women who were raped during Bosnia's 1992-1995 war, as well as women whose beloved ones were killed in the massacre.

U.S. soldier accused in militia plot convicted in wife's death

By David Beasley ATLANTA (Reuters) - A U.S. Army soldier accused of using his wife's $500,000 life insurance benefits to fund an anti-government militia group was convicted on Thursday of killing her and their unborn child, a military spokesman said. A military judge found Private Isaac Aguigui, 22, guilty of asphyxiating his pregnant wife, Sergeant Deirdre Aguigui, in 2011 when she was stationed at Fort Stewart in southern Georgia, said base spokesman Kevin Larson.

13 Migrants kidnapped on Mexican-U.S. border, Amnesty International says

Mexico City, Mar 27 (EFE).- Thirteen migrants were apparently kidnapped by a gang in the northeastern Mexican state of Tamaulipas and their lives may be in danger, Amnesty International said Thursday. Army troops rescued about 40 migrants on March 19 in Reynosa, located across the border from McAllen, Texas, but 10 of the migrants were abducted a second time as they made their way to a shelter, AI said. The 10 migrants "were heading to a Catholic shelter when they were once again kidnapped and their whereabouts is unknown," the human rights group said.

Montana bride accused in husband's cliff death to be sentenced

By Laura Zuckerman (Reuters) - A Montana bride who shoved her husband of eight days off a cliff at Glacier National Park is due to be sentenced on Thursday, and a judge was expected to rule on a defense motion to withdraw her guilty plea to a second-degree murder charge. Attorneys for 22-year-old Jordan Graham on Tuesday asked a federal judge to rescind her guilty plea from December, alleging prosecutors are overreaching by seeking a life sentence and reneging on an agreement that they expected to involve less prison time.

Court decides to reopen 1966 murder case of death row inmate

The Shizuoka District Court decided Thursday to reopen a high-profile 1966 murder case in which a former professional boxer has been on death row for more than 30 years for killing four members of a family. The court also decided to suspend the death penalty and permit the release of Iwao Hakamada, 78. Hakamada's release is dependent upon prosecutors agreeing.
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