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Germany drags Italy to ICJ over WW11 Nazi reparation

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The German government has dragged Italy to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) asking it to halt the sale of German-owned buildings in Rome following announcement by the Italian government that it would soon auctioned off the assets to pay for Nazi war crimes compensation cases.

The German case against Italy which was filed on Friday, is an aftermath of a long-running dispute between the two countries regarding World War II reparations.

It was the second time that the case has been dragged to the ICJ following a similar effort in 2012 where the UN’s top court ruled that Germany couldn’t be sued in foreign courts by victims of Nazi war crimes.

In a filing published by The Hague court late on Friday, Germany argued that domestic courts in Italy had repeatedly violated the ICJ’s 2012 ruling after more than 25 new compensations claims were filed against Germany over damages arising from Nazi atrocities during the war.

In many of those cases, Italian courts have ordered Germany to pay compensation to victims and their families.

Germany is also seeking financial compensation from Italy “for any injury caused through violations of Germany’s right to sovereign immunity,” the filing stated.

Germany further argues in the filing that “Italy has violated, and continues to violate, its obligation to respect Germany’s sovereign immunity by threatening to take the buildings to pay for complaints filed by victims of Nazi crimes.”

Germany and Italy have been locked in a legal dispute over WWII reparations for years with the Germans’ arguement being that it has already paid out billions of euros in compensation for atrocities committed by the Nazi regime since the end of WWII, taking part in extensive reparations and peace treaties with the countries affected.

One of the cases involved a man who was deported to Germany in 1944 and forced to work as an enslaved laborer in a munitions factory while other cases concerned claims brought by the families of nine people who were among those killed by the German military in Civitella, Tuscany, in 1944, where 203 civilians were massacred by the Germans.

The most pressing issue for Germany, according to the filing, is a pending Italian court ruling on whether to force the sale of four of German-owned buildings.

The properties include buildings in Rome that house the local offices of the German Archaeological Institute, the German Historical Institute, the cultural Goethe Institute and the German School of Rome.

While no hearing has been scheduled for the case as rulings in the ICJ typically take years to come through, an Italian court said it would decide on May 25 whether to go ahead with the auction of the buildings.

Musings From Abroad

Former China’s Justice Minister gets death sentence commuted to life imprisonment for bribery

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Former China’s Justice Minister, Fu Zhenghua, has been sentenced to life imprisonment after a higher court suspended an earlier death sentence passed on him for taking bribes and “bending the law”.

Zhenghua’s death sentence was commuted to a life imprisinment term by the Intermediate People’s Court in the city of Changchun on Thursday after a two-year reprieve.

According China state media, Zhenghua’s high-profile sentencing is part of a “sweeping anti-graft campaign which is coming three weeks before a key political meeting where President Xi Jinping is expected to secure an unprecedented third term.”

During the sentencing, the Intermediate People’s Court judge said the former Minister had abused his power while in a range of senior positions from 2005 to 2021.

“He is deprived of political rights for life and all personal property should be confiscated,” the judge said.

State prosecutors were able to establish that the 67-year-old Zhenghua had accepted bribes worth over 117 million yuan ($16.5 million) during a 16 year period he served in different capacities.

The State media reports that between 2014 and 2015, when he was head of the Beijing Public Security Bureau, Zhenghua hid evidence of suspected crimes committed by his brother, Fu Weihua, and failed to handle the case in accordance with the law.

“During his tenure as Beijing’s top cop, Fu is thought to have led the corruption investigation into Zhou Yongkang, the former security chief who was jailed in 2015 in one of the anti-graft campaign’s most high-profile cases.:

Zhenghua was a member of the Central Political and Legal Affairs Commission and the Minister of Justice before entering semi-retirement in May 2020.

He had also served as the Deputy Director of the Social and Legal Affairs Committee on the Standing Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) when anti-graft authorities launched an investigation into his dealings last October.

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Musings From Abroad

Russia/Ukraine War: Putin threatens to use nuclear weapons, mobilises 300,000 reservist soldiers

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Russian president, Vladimir Putin, has threatened to use nuclear weapons and mobilize 300,000 reservists soldiers amidst the ongoing war with Ukraine.

Putin in a pre-recorded video announced that he was calling up reserve soldiers to help in Russia’s war against Ukraine.

He however deferred implementing a nationwide conscription drive for the time being. Reservists with training and experience would be called to join up first, he continued.

Speaking on NATO nuclear threats against Russia and claiming to be at war with the West, which is trying to “weaken, divide and destroy” Russia, Putin boasted of Moscow’s superior nuclear weapons.“To defend Russia and our people, we doubtlessly will use all resources at our disposal,” Putin said.

“This is not a bluff,” he added

Meanwhile, also in the video, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu revealed that 300,000 additional soldiers will be mobilized.

He added that Russia had 25 million men with military experience, saying that the current partial mobilization only covers about 1 percent of that number.

“We are not just fighting with Ukraine, but with the collective West,” Shoigu said. He added that 5,937 Russians had been killed in the war so far. This number is vastly below the country’s estimated losses, and the Ukrainians say they have “eliminated” more than 50,000 Russian personnel. Shoigu claimed that the Russians had killed 61,207 Ukrainian soldiers and wounded 49,368.

In February, Russia invaded Ukraine in a major escalation of the Russo-Ukrainian War that began in 2014. The invasion caused Europe’s largest refugee crisis since World War II with around 7.3 million Ukrainians fleeing the country and a third of the population displaced. It has also caused global food shortages.

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