Wednesday, 5 August 2015


Seven members of the Vice Lords were charged in an indictment unsealed today with various offenses based on their roles in a gang-related shooting.  The charges are the result of the collaborative efforts of law enforcement and the community to reduce homicide and other violent crime under the Detroit One program, which has led to the arrests and convictions of Vice Lords leaders during this past year. 
The announcement was made by Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Barbara L. McQuade of the Eastern District of Michigan, Special Agent in Charge Robin Shoemaker of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Detroit Field Division, Special Agent in Charge Paul M. Abbate of the FBI’s Detroit Division and Chief James Craig of the Detroit Police Department. 
The seven Vice Lord members charged with crimes stemming from this incident are:     
·         Antonio Clark, aka Cheeto, 25, of Detroit, is charged with attempted murder in aid of racketeering, assault with a dangerous weapon in aid of racketeering, use and carry of firearms during and in relation to a crime of violence and being a felon in possession of firearms;
·         Aramis Wilson, aka Ace, 24, of Detroit, is charged with attempted murder in aid of racketeering, assault with a dangerous weapon in aid of racketeering, use and carry of firearms during and in relation to a crime of violence and being a felon in possession of firearms;
·         Tyrone Price, aka Price, 26, of Detroit, is charged with assault with a dangerous weapon in aid of racketeering, and use and carry of firearms during and in relation to a crime of violence;
·         Jonathan Kinchen, aka Deago, 22, of Detroit, is charged with assault with a dangerous weapon in aid of racketeering, and use and carry of firearms during and in relation to a crime of violence;
·         Kojuan Lee, aka Juan, 19, of Detroit, is charged with assault with a dangerous weapon in aid of racketeering, and use and carry of firearms during and in relation to a crime of violence;
·         Kirshean Nelson, 18, of Detroit, is charged with assault with a dangerous weapon in aid of racketeering, and use and carry of firearms during and in relation to a crime of violence; and
·         Dion Robinson, aka Doggy, 37, of Detroit, is charged with assault with a dangerous weapon in aid of racketeering, and use and carry of firearms during and in relation to a crime of violence.
Robinson, Clark, Price and Kinchen are in custody; arrest warrants have been issued for the other three defendants. 
According to the indictment, the Vice Lords is a national gang engaged in a variety of crimes, including murder, robbery, narcotics trafficking and witness intimidation.  The indictment alleges that the Vice Lords’ leaders are located in both Chicago and Detroit, and that the gang is broken down into various “sets,” “decks,” or “branches,” including the Detroit-based Insane Vice Lords, Imperial Insane Vice Lords, Traveling Vice Lords, Conservative Vice Lords, Mafia Insane Vice Lords and Insane Goon Gang.  The indictment further alleges that members who seek to leave or withdraw from the gang oftentimes endure a physical beating, known as a “beat out,” by multiple Vice Lord members, or are targeted for killing, known as a “green light.” 
According to the indictment, on May 7, 2015, to maintain and improve their positions in the Traveling Vice Lords, the defendants shot four individuals from the same family.  The indictment alleges that the shooting was prompted by two of the family members’ attempts to leave the gang.            
The charges and allegations contained in the indictment are merely accusations.  The defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty. 
This case is being investigated by the ATF, FBI and the Detroit Police Department.  The case is being prosecuted by the Criminal Division’s Organized Crime and Gang Section and the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Eastern District of Michigan.

-Department of Justice (USA)

In Court Brief, Ex-Justice Officials Cite Prosecutor's 'Game'

An extraordinary brief filed last week in the U.S. Supreme Court has put the Justice Department in an awkward spot, Adam Liptak writes in the New York Times.
The brief said federal prosecutors had violated the Constitution by failing to turn over evidence about a key witness. “Such an approach,” the brief said, “contributes to a harmful notion that the criminal justice system is a game, and that victory rather than justice is a prosecutor’s goal.” The argument itself is not unusual. But the people making the argument are.
They include some 20 former Justice Department officials, including Michael B. Mukasey, who served as attorney general in the Bush administration. Their brief urged the Supreme Court to hear an appeal from George Georgiou, who was convicted in 2010 of securities fraud and related crimes.
Georgiou says his conviction was tainted by violations of rules requiring prosecutors to turn over favorable evidence to the defense. Prosecutors had failed to provide Georgiou’s lawyers with documents that showed that the key witness against him, a business partner turned government informant, had been taking drugs to combat mental health problems. Prosecutors said defense lawyers could have located the documents themselves.

 -The Crime Report

S.Africa: court dismisses corruption case against Malema

South African court throws out Malema fraud case A South African judge struck the corruption case against fiery opposition politician Julius Malema off the roll on Tuesday, saying that the firebrand leader had waited too long for the trial.

Economic Freedom Fighters’ leader Julius Malema walked out of court today after his trial - on fraud charges following the awarding of tenders to a company linked to him by the Limpopo transport department - was struck off the roll.

The judge said that Malema and his co-accused had already waited too long to answer to the charges. This came after the prosecution yesterday sought a postponement because one of the accused was ill.

“No postponement! Justice Delayed is Justice Denied!‚” the EFF Official Account @EconFreedomZA had tweeted earlier today.

“The judge says I am free ... I know the state can reinstate charges‚ but I stand before all of you an innocent man without a judgment against my head‚” Malema said outside court today‚ claiming the charges were attempt to silence him. "They do not have a case against me."

Malema yesterday told his supporters told his supporters that he wanted the trial to get under way.

“This dark cloud has to be resolved. And therefore any form of sickness or death or any other material condition should never prevent me from having my day in court. I plead with the judge and the national prosecuting authority. You have accused me for too long‚ let me have my day in court‚” he said to loud cheers.

Malema’s Ratanang family trust is said to have benefited from the irregular awarding of a tender to On Point Engineering.

Malema and two On-Point Engineering directors had been accused of misrepresenting themselves to the Limpopo roads and transport department resulting in the company being awarded a R52-million tender.

It was also alleged that Malema’s Ratanang Family Trust was an indirect shareholder in the company and that he benefited from the contract.

Malema was also accused of having bought himself a car and a farm with the money received from that deal.


One of Macia Murder Accused Acquitted

One of the Daveyton policemen accused of murdering Mozambican taxi driver Mido Macia has been acquitted because there was no evidence against him.
After closing the State's case, prosecutor Charles Mnisi conceded on Tuesday that there was no evidence against the ninth accused, Constable Matome Walter Ramatlou, 37.
Judge Bert Bam said it was not necessary for the defence to apply for Ramatlou's discharge.
"There is no evidence whatsoever implicating accused 9. He is found not guilty and discharged.
"You are free to go," the judge told Ramatlou.
Ramatlou was the only one of the accused who was not dismissed after a disciplinary hearing and had already resumed his duties as a police officer last year.
The case for the remaining former Daveyton policemen, Meshack Malele, 46, Thamsamqa Mgema, 35, Percy Jonathan Mnisi, 26, Bongamusa Mdluli, 25, Sipho Sydwell Ngobeni, 30, Lungisa Gwababa, 31, Bongani Kolisi, 27 and Linda Sololo, 56, will commence on Wednesday.
They have denied murdering Macia, insisting they had not willfully caused his death.
The policemen were arrested after a video emerged in 2013 of Macia being dragged behind a police van through the streets of Daveyton on the East Rand. He was arrested for obstructing traffic.
State pathologist Dr Solly Skosana earlier testified that Macia had died from head and chest injuries, which resulted in concussion and an accumulation of fluid in the brain, restricted breathing, and eventually a lack of oxygen, resulting in his death.
He said timely medical intervention could have saved Macia's life.
In cross-examination by defence advocate Marius van Wyngaard, Skosana conceded that all of Macia's external injuries could have been caused during the initial altercation with police who tried to get him into a police van or while being dragged behind the van.
He shot down suggestions that Macia could have inhaled enough carbon monoxide from the exhaust fumes of the police van to cause his death.
Van Wyngaard suggested to him that Macia could have sustained some of his injuries later after slipping on his socks and falling against a bench or wall in the cell.
Skosana said blood spatters on the walls of the cell indicated that Macia was still alive and upright when force was applied to any part of his body, such as his head.
"It would have resulted in the head moving, hence the blood spatter against the wall.
"We know the deceased was still alive when he arrived in the cell because blood spatters cannot emanate from a dead person when a blow is applied to him," he said.
When Bam asked if Macia would still have been able to walk by himself if he had sustained his injuries before he was brought to the cell, Skosana said he would have expected Macia to be disorientated and to complain of a headache, thereafter leading to unconsciousness.
"If he was standing, that would explain if he became dizzy and unconscious, he would fall and hit his body against a hard surface. He would then be unconscious.
"With medical help, it's been proven that the effects of cerebral oedema (the excess accumulation of fluid in the spaces of the brain) may be reversed with the administration of oxygen," he said.
Source: News24

South Africa: Family Seeking Justice for Freedom Fighter 32 Years After Her Torture and Disappearance By the Security Police

On 20 May 2015, Thembi Nkadimeng filed an application before the Gauteng Division of the High Court seeking to compel the National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP) to make a decision in respect of the 32 year old disappearance of her sister, struggle heroine Nokuthula Simelane.
Nokuthula Simelane was abducted, tortured and forcibly disappeared by members of the Security Branch of the former South African Police in 1983. She was a 23 year old university graduate and acted as a courier for Umkhonto we Sizwe, the armed wing of the African National Congress, moving between Swaziland and South Africa. Her remains have never been found. The family has been denied the right to bury their daughter with the dignity she deserves.
In 1996, a police docket was opened and in 2001 the Amnesty Committee of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) granted some of the perpetrators amnesty for Nokuthula's abduction, including certain police officers who the Committee found had lied about the brutal torture. This was notwithstanding the full disclosure requirement laid down in the TRC law. None of the perpetrators applied for amnesty for her murder.
Until the launching of this court case, and despite repeated requests, the Office of the NDPP had not taken a decision in respect of the kidnapping, torture and likely murder of Simelane. They also declined or failed to institute criminal proceedings in respect of those former Security Branch officers who did not apply for amnesty.
The NDPP and the Minister of Justice and Correctional Services filed notices of intention to oppose the application on 27 July 2015.
The former Security Branch officers who have indicated through their attorney that they will not oppose the application are Willem Helm Coetzee, Anton Pretorius and Frederick Barnard Mong. Timothy Radebe, and Willem Schoon, who was the former Commander of the SAP's Security Branch C1 Section, have not filed notices to oppose. Interestingly, Radebe and Schoon never applied for amnesty at all.
Other respondents who have not filed notices to oppose are the National Commissioner of the South African Police and the National Minister of Police.
In response to the application to court, the NDPP has indicated that it will establish an inquest before the High Court into the death of Nokuthula Simelane. According to the State Attorney, on 24 July the NDPP submitted a memorandum in terms of the Inquest Act to the Minister of Justice and Correctional Services with the request that he approach the Judge President of the Gauteng Division to designate a judge to preside over the inquest. However, the NDPP and the Minister of Justice have declined to provide an undertaking that the inquest will be established within a reasonable period of time.
The NDPP and the Minister of Justice have also declined to consent to a court declaration that the prolonged delay in finalizing Simelane's case represents a gross violation of the right of Simelane's family to human dignity and to redress under the rule of law; and that it has effectively prevented the family from reaching closure and substantially impaired the prospects of justice being served.
The legal representatives of the family have informed the State Attorney that the NDPP and the Minister of Justice must file their answering affidavits by no later than Monday, 17 August 2015.
Thembi Nkadimeng is being assisted by the Southern Africa Litigation Centre, and is represented by Advocate Muzi Sikhakhane, Advocate Howard Varney and Webber Wentzel Attorneys.


How Black and White Children Fare in St. Louis Family Courts

What happens to black children in St. Louis County Family Court is disturbing, but it is hardly an outlier.
The Justice Department found in a recent report that black children are two and a half times more likely to be detained pretrial than white children in St. Louis County Court. After being convicted, black children are more than two and a half times more likely to be placed in the Division of Youth Services custody. White kids are usually placed in less restrictive settings, like probation with in-home services or treatment facilities that are not run by the state.
As disturbing as this data is, St. Louis County is not the only locality in which black children are penalized unfairly in the nation's courts. The Campaign For The Fair Sentencing Of Youth reports that black children make up 17 percent of the U.S. juvenile population, but account for 30 percent of kids arrested and 62 percent of children prosecuted in adult criminal courts. The porblem starts even before they get to court. Studies have shown black kids are criminalized starting in school. Though they make up just 16 percent of U.S. student enrollment, black children represent 27 percent of students referred to law enforcement.
In 2014, King County, which is home to Seattle, saw more black kids in its criminal justice system for the first time. Though black children make up just 10 percent of the county’s kids, 50 percent of them are behind bars. Florida leads the nation in charging children as adults; black kids make a vast majority of those transfers.
Yushika Florence, a social worker with the HANDY, a nonprofit that advocates for foster children in Broward County, Fla., says the racial disparities we see are due, in part, to economics. She says that black children who are placed in the foster care, for example, are more likely to have encounters with the criminal justice system because many black families can’t afford to take on another child like white families.
“White families are in a better financial situation to where they can take on another child in a household,” Florence told AlterNet. “With the black families, sometimes the kids end up in foster care because, frankly, they don’t have any relatives who can afford to feed another mouth or two.”  
The Fair Sentencing Project reports that black children make up 17 percent of the U.S. juvenile population, but account for 30 percent of kids arrested and 62 percent of children prosecuted in adult criminal courts.
Black kids are also the hardest hit group when in terms of being sentenced to life without parole.  
Nationally, 77 percent of juveniles serving life without parole sentences are either black or Latino. In California, where more kids are serving life without parole sentences than any other state, black kids are serving the sentence at 10 times the rate of white children.
Jody Kent Lavy, director and coordinator for the Campaign for the Fair Sentencing of Youth, says that, unlike many white youth, black kids often don’t have adequate representation during sentencing, which leads to longer prison terms.
“We know that people facing life without parole are typically assigned public defenders in the adult criminal justice system who may or may not have any training whatsoever in representing children,” Kent Lavy told AlterNet. “That creates a whole set of other problems. They don’t necessary have any experience with adolescent development research that’s so critical in looking at how young people are fundamentally different than adults in their ability to be rehabilitated, susceptibility to peer pressure, all of the things that should be raised in the defense of a child.”
Then, there is the often-cited 2014 study by the American Psychological association that found that black kids were believed to be “less innocent” than white children, in general. So harsher sentences and treatment by the system is harldy limited to the “Show Me State.”
Ferguson and St. Louis County have both become known as a kind of Ground Zero for racism in America (for good reason), but, in reality, things aren’t much better in the rest of the country. As the Aug. 9 anniversary of Michael Brown’s shooting approaches, it is clear that Ferguson and the county that hosts the small midwestern city is, in fact, America.

By Terrell Jermaine Starr / AlterNet

German Justice Minister Fires Top Prosecutor for Treason Probe of Bloggers

Germany’s justice minister fired the country’s top prosecutor on Tuesday over the prosecutor’s treason investigation of two prominent bloggers, culminating a dayslong fight among public officials over the limits of press freedom.
The federal prosecutor general, Harald Range, said earlier Tuesday that the government in Berlin was inappropriately trying to block his investigation of the two journalists, who published classified documents on the domestic intelligence service’s plans to expand Internet surveillance.
But Justice Minister Heiko Maas countered hours later that Mr. Range’s claim was wrong. Mr. Maas said the prosecutor had in fact agreed on Friday to suspend the probe pending a legal review by the Justice Ministry. Mr. Maas—who had earlier expressed doubt that the journalists’ actions amounted to treason—said on Tuesday that he and the office of Chancellor Angela Merkel agreed that Mr. Range, who is 67 years old, should give up his post.
“I have let Federal Prosecutor General Range know that my trust in his service has suffered lasting damage,” Mr. Maas told reporters in a brief statement in Berlin. “As agreed with the Chancellery, I will ask the Federal President today to move him into retirement.”
Mr. Maas’s firing of Germany’s top prosecutor—who investigates sensitive terrorism cases and other major crimes—marked a crescendo in a case that has embarrassed Ms. Merkel’s government and touched off debate over how to balance freedom of speech, privacy, and security in the European Union’s most populous country.
The case triggered widespread criticism since, a popular blog on digital rights issues, published a letter last week from Mr. Range notifying two of its journalists they were being investigated on suspicion of treason. The probe centered on two blog posts from February and April that disclosed plans by Germany’s domestic intelligence service to boost its surveillance of Internet traffic.
Mr. Range on Tuesday accused the Justice Ministry, which supervises the prosecutor general, of yielding to the criticism for political reasons. He said an external review he ordered had reached a preliminary conclusion that the legal interpretation underpinning the investigation was valid, but that the Justice Ministry ordered the review stopped.
“To influence investigations because their possible result appears politically inconvenient is an intolerable intrusion into the independence of the justice system,” Mr. Range said.
Mr. Maas responded later Tuesday that Mr. Range had agreed on Friday to cancel the external review without knowledge of the results and to rely on the Justice Ministry’s review instead.
“The actions and statements today by Federal Prosecutor General Range are not comprehensible and send the wrong message to the public,” Mr. Maas said.
Criminal investigations of journalists are rare in Germany, which watchdog organization Reporters Without Borders ranks as 12th-best in the world in its index of global press freedoms.
The most prominent case occurred in 1962, when the police raided the offices of the news magazine Der Spiegel and arrested several journalists on suspicion of treason after it published what the government claimed were secret details about weaknesses in the German military. Der Spiegel eventually prevailed in the ensuing legal battle.
But possible government overreach and surveillance have become hot-button issues again in Germany in the wake of former U.S. National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden’s disclosures of global eavesdropping programs. Revelations of German spy agencies’ complicity in NSA surveillance have repeatedly put Ms. Merkel on the defensiveagainst domestic criticism that she wasn’t doing enough to protect civil rights at home.
After revealed the treason investigation into journalists Andre Meisterand Markus Beckedahl, government officials quickly distanced themselves from it. Both the Justice Ministry and the Interior Ministry said they doubted that the journalists’ actions qualified as treason.
Mr. Meister said in a blog post on Tuesday that the investigation, sparked by a complaint from Germany’s domestic intelligence agency, was meant to scare journalists and potential sources.
“We know, of course, that in addition to us, our and other potential informants are meant to be intimidated,” Mr. Meister wrote.
A spokeswoman for Ms. Merkel said on Monday that Justice Minister Heiko Maas had her support and that freedom of the press had to be protected.
An investigation by the prosecutor general could result in charges against the journalists. German law stipulates that treason carries at least a one-year prison sentence.
On Sunday, Mr. Range said he had launched the investigation in May after a criminal complaint filed by the domestic intelligence agency, known by its German initials BfV, and that he had commissioned an external review to determine whether or not the documents disclosed by were state secrets.
“It was necessary to take legal action against the publication of BfV documents classified as confidential or secret in order to secure the future ability of my agency to fight against extremism and terrorism,” BfV chief Hans-Georg Maassen told Sunday newspaper Bild am Sonntag.