Daily Archives: 09/12/2016

USA: This lawyer got an apology for bogus fraud charges, but still lost his wife and reputation

December 8, 2016

Sheldon Feigel, left, and wife Stacey Feigel. A Fresno judge dismiss fraud charges against the Sanger lawyer on Thursday, Dec. 8, 2016. Stacey Feigel suffered a fatal heart attack at the Fresno County courthouse a month after the federal raid of their home.

In an unusual move, a Fresno County judge has not only dismissed fraud charges against a Sanger lawyer, but apologized to him for a nearly three-year legal ordeal during which his wife died and he was disbarred.

In dismissing charges against Sheldon Feigel, Superior Court Judge W. Kent Hamlin dealt a major blow to a high-profile California Department of Justice investigation. State officials accused Feigel, 53, and Fresno lawyer Craig Mortensen, 63, of engaging in a housing scheme that led to the fraudulent seizure of two dozen homes in several counties, including Fresno County.

On Wednesday, Hamlin granted the prosecution’s motion to dismiss the case against Feigel with prejudice, meaning charges can’t be refiled against Feigel.

“Honestly, as I look at this case, I am puzzled as to how you were ever charged in this case and I’m disturbed by everything I’ve read about this case and how you and your family were treated in this case,” Hamlin told Feigel. “And since you won’t get the apology from the attorney general or the Department of Justice, on their behalf I’ll apologize for them.”

But Hamlin said Mortensen will stand trial on 94 fraud charges.


The Philippines: IBP: Duterte remark on drug suspects’ lawyers ‘very dangerous’

December 9, 2016

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte is welcomed by Albay Governor Al Francis Bichara upon his arrival at Legazpi City in Albay for the groundbreaking ceremony of the newBicol International Airport Terminal on December 8, 2016. ACE MORANDANTE/Presidential Photo

President Rodrigo Duterte’s statement that lawyers defending drug suspects will be the next target of his war on drugs is “very dangerous” because it creates unavoidable chilling effect on lawyers, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) said in a statement Friday.

The IBP is a mandatory organization for lawyers with more than 60,000 members.

Duterte, in a speech during an anti-corruption campaign, said lawyers of suspected drug lords are taking advantage of the judicial process allowing their clients to continue with their illegal activities.

“That’s their style. They were able to post bail because they have lawyers. They are good, high-profile lawyers. Then [their clients] will play again,” Duterte said in his usual expletive-laced speech.

He then warned: “Even their lawyers, I will include them.”


Pakistan: Quetta lawyers attack: ‘Irreparable blow to future’

December 9, 2016

Four months after a suicide attack on a hospital in Pakistan’s Balochistan province which killed 70 lawyers, ordinary people are struggling to find representation and justice in an unstable region.

At least 70 lawyers were killed on August 8 when a suicide bomber attacked the emergency ward of a hospital in the state capital, Quetta, where lawyers had gathered to mourn the murder of a colleague, Bilal Anwar Kasi.

Kasi, the president of the Balochistan Bar Association, had been shot dead earlier that morning.

Atta Khan Kakar, a lawyer in Quetta and Kasi’s brother, told Al Jazeera on Thursday that people in the state were still battling to come to terms with the attack that decimated the legal fraternity in Quetta. He described the incident as an irreparable blow to Balochistan’s future.

“The blast has set back Balochistan by 100 years. Lawyers with decades of experience, people who would become judges, were all killed. We are a target because we stand to provide justice,” Kakar said.


Canada (Québec): Les avocats et notaires reprendront les négociations avec Québec

le 8 décembre, 2016

Les avocats et notaires de l'ANEQ sont en... (PHOTO PATRICK SANFAÇON, archives LA PRESSE)

Les avocats et notaires de l’État québécois (ANEQ) qui sont en grève depuis plus de six semaines retourneront à la table de négociation avec le gouvernement du Québec lundi prochain.

L’association syndicale a annoncé la nouvelle jeudi soir, par voie de communiqué.

Les avocats et les notaires de la fonction publique et de l’Agence du revenu du Québec se livrent à un bras de fer contre le gouvernement québécois depuis le 24 octobre dernier.

Le principal point en litige entre les deux parties est la demande du syndicat de modifier en profondeur le régime de négociation qui concerne ses membres. Il veut obtenir un mécanisme d’arbitrage qui lierait les parties, et non plus un processus de médiation.

L’ANEQ regroupe quelque 1100 avocats et notaires, mais ils ne sont pas tous en grève puisqu’une partie d’entre eux doit continuer d’assurer les services essentiels.

Ces employés de l’État sont sans contrat de travail depuis le 31 mars 2015.



Colombia: Alirio Uribe, José Alvear Restrepo Lawyers’ Collective (CCAJAR), Colombia

December 9, 2016

Of course, everybody has their own personal history. In my life, I grew up in a poor family, in a poor village in Colombia, so I saw all of the injustice related to that from a very early age. At university I was a student leader and I worked with trade unions. When I became a lawyer, I represented social causes. For most of my professional career over the last 22 years, I have worked in a collective of lawyers, an organisation which PBI protects.

Colombia is a large country, very beautiful and very rich in resources. Officially, Colombia is a democratic state, with elected presidents, strong laws and a very good constitution. This contrasts entirely with the reality – the country has endured an armed conflict for nearly fifty years and is notorious for having a humanitarian crisis and grave and widespread violations human rights. It’s a country in which 10% of the population is displaced and where there are attacks against unionists and civilians, massacres of rural populations and sexual attacks against women. The country has two faces.

Before the arrival of PBI, there was always a lot of anxiety about assassinations and attacks on our collective of lawyers. Many of us carried guns to protect and defend ourselves. I think all human rights defenders know of the risks and freely decide to accept them. It might seem a little perverse, but we have worked in these conditions for our whole careers so we have become accustomed to living like this.


China: Time’s up: China must release imprisoned lawyer Wang Quanzhang

December 9, 2016

wang quanzhang

Where is Wang Quanzhang? After over a year in secret detention it is time for China to end this tragedy. The State must release him, drop all charges, and initiate the process of compensation and reparation. Anything less is to compound the already inexcusable injustice against this brave citizen and selfless human rights defender.

However, on 5 December, rather than releasing him, the prosecutor again sent his case back to the police, seemingly due to a lack of evidence. Wang’s ongoing refusal to cooperate in a sham trial, coupled with China’s fear that his resistance will inspire others, has lead the authorities to prolong his enforced disappearance, hoping through maintaining terror on him and his family they will force a trial without incident. This symbolism is an important demonstration of power in China’s current campaign to annihilate the human rights community, of which Wang has been a rising figure for years.

I first met Wang Quanzhang in 2008, following the Beijing Olympics, assisting victims of the crackdown on the Human Rights Torch Relay. From 2009 until early 2014, we worked together closely as part of the Chinese Urgent Action Working Group (China Action).

I often facilitated meetings between Wang and foreign diplomats in Beijing to discuss specific human rights concerns in China.

One thing I remember about Wang is his driving. I think about the contrast of him being the slowest, most timid driver I’ve ever ridden with to his assertiveness in demanding human rights for Chinese citizens, especially the most marginalized whom others feared to defend.

Since August 2015, Wang has been denied contact with his family and lawyers. We won’t know the full extent of his suffering until he is permitted to speak freely. Still, Wang’s case is emblematic of everything wrong with China’s empty rhetoric of being a country governed by the rule of law.






UK: Phil Shiner ‘should apologise to Iraq veterans’ after admitting misconduct

December 8, 2016

Human rights lawyer Phil Shiner faces being struck off after admitting misconduct allegations

Controversial human rights lawyer Phil Shiner should apologise to the Iraq War veterans he pursued over war crimes after he admitted a string of misconduct charges, the Defence Secretary has said.

A disciplinary tribunal heard Mr Shiner, a solicitor who worked for the now-defunct Public Interest Lawyers (PIL), accepts he will be stuck off following an investigation by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) watchdog.

He has admitted nine allegations of acting without integrity, including that he made “unsolicited direct approaches” to potential clients through a fixer, understood to be Abu Jamal, and three others.

He also agreed to pay Jamal, named only as “Z” in SRA papers, thousands of pounds for referrals, which is prohibited.

As a team leader at PIL, Mr Shiner authorised and procured payments and fee-sharing agreements with the agent between 2007 and 2010.

One of those payments was for £25,000 on 30 March 2009, which he admitted but denied it had related to a publicly-funded case as the SRA allege.


Turkey: FETÖ-linked prosecutor who searched top secret ‘cosmic room’ arrested

December 9, 2016

Former public prosecutor, Mustafa Bilgili who was overseeing the ‘Cosmic Room’ case in 2009 has been arrested on Thursday as part of the investigation into the Gülenist terror group (FETÖ).

Bilgili, who led the search of a top-secret military facility allegedly to get a hold of state secrets for FETÖ, was captured in November in the capital Ankara, long after his dismissal from his post.

He was found in possession of a fake ID when police stopped his car at a checkpoint in Ankara’s Cebeci district. Upon learning his real identity through a fingerprint scan, police detained Bilgili, who had a detention warrant issued for being a member of the terror cult that is blamed for the latest coup attempt in Turkey on July 15.

The prosecutor and his team had conducted a 20-day search in 2009 on the so-called “cosmic room” at the army’s special warfare headquarters, where confidential documents regarding the military were kept. The search had stirred up controversy at the time but the judiciary defended itself saying that the search was part of an alleged assassination plot targeting then Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç.


Egypt: Arrest and release on bail of Azza Soliman

December 8, 2016

OMCT logo


New information

EGY 004 / 1116 / OBS 101.1
Arbitrary Arrest / Release on bail /

Judicial harassment
December 8, 2016

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a partnership of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and FIDH, received new information and requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Egypt.

New information:
The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the arrest of Ms. Azza Soliman, human rights lawyer and founder of the Centre for Egyptian Women Legal Aid (CEWLA), an NGO that provides free legal, social, and psychological services to women and marginalized groups, and advocates for improved protections of their rights, and member of the Executive Committee of the WHRD MENA Coalition.

According to the information received, on December 7, 2016 at around 1.30 pm, police officers came to the house of Ms. Azza Soliman in the early afternoon presenting her an arrest warrant issued by investigative Judge Hisham Abdel Meguid, investigating on the case No. 173/2001 (commonly known as the “NGO foreign funding case) (see background information). This is the first arrest warrant to be issued against an NGO worker in relation to this case. The charges brought against her are of “receiving foreign funding to harm the State’s interest”, “establishment of an entity that conducts activities similar to that of associations’ activities“ and “tax evasion”. She has been taken by force to the Masr Al Jdede (Heliopolis) Police Station, and afterwards brought to the New Cairo Court before the investigative judge.

After several hours of interrogation, Ms. Soliman was finally released in the evening of the same day at around 8 pm after paying a bail of 20,000 EGP (approx. 1,080 €).





China: What happened to China’s arrested rights lawyers?

December 9, 2016

Human Rights Day is observed every year on 10 December

But in China, it’s proving a sensitive anniversary as experts from the UN demand answers from the government about the recent disappearance of a well-known human rights lawyer.

Jiang Tianyong went missing three weeks ago after attempting to investigate the detention of a colleague.

Human rights groups fear that Mr Jiang himself may now have been detained.

Our China editor Carrie Gracie has this update on Beijing’s sweeping crackdown on its human rights lawyers.