Day: May 29, 2019

iSpy: How a judge’s decision on a secret iPod recording cut short the Nicholson-Vey murder plot retrial

Curtis Vey and Angela Nicholson

The recording included Saskatchewan ex-lovers Angela Nicholson and Curtis Vey talking about an alleged plot to kill their spouses. But a judge ruled that the RCMP’s handling of the recording violated the Nicholson and Vey’s privacy rights, before finding them not-guilty.

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By The Wall of Law May 29, 2019 Off

Family, lawyer say Egypt has rearrested Al-Jazeera reporter

CAIRO — Egyptian authorities rearrested an Al-Jazeera journalist who was ordered released last week after more than two years in detention on accusations of spreading false news, his family and lawyer said Wednesday.

Under Egyptian procedure and following last week’s court order, Mahmoud Hussein had been transferred from prison to a police jail to await his release. But his lawyer, Gama Eid, said that instead of being freed, Hussein was apparently ordered detained again in a separate case.

Eid did not know what the new charges against the journalist were, saying authorities did not notify him or Hussein’s family.

Hussein’s family said in a statement Tuesday the new case dates from last year, when he was already in detention.

Doha-based Al-Jazeera reported the rearrest of Hussein on its website Tuesday, citing his family.

A spokesman for the Interior Ministry, which oversees police, did not respond to phone calls seeking comment.

Hussein, an Egyptian working for the Qatar-based satellite network, was detained at the Cairo airport in December 2016, when he arrived on a family vacation from Doha.

Since the 2013 ouster of Muslim Brotherhood President Mohamed Morsi amid mass protests against his one year rule, the Al-Jazeera network has been portrayed as Egypt’s national enemy for its sympathy toward Islamists, especially the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood group.

Al-Jazeera’s news website has been blocked since 2017, along with dozens of other news sites deemed too critical of the government of President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi.

Since his assent to power, el-Sissi has waged an unprecedented crackdown on dissent, arresting thousands — mostly Islamists but also prominent secular activists and journalists — and rolling back freedoms won after the 2011 uprising that toppled former leader Hosni Mubarak.

Samy Magdy, The Associated Press

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source https://toronto.citynews.ca/2019/05/29/family-lawyer-say-egypt-has-rearrested-al-jazeera-reporter/

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Navy SEAL seeks to toss slaying case over withheld evidence

SAN DIEGO — Lawyers for a Navy SEAL accused of killing an Islamic State prisoner in Iraq in 2017 want the case thrown out because of alleged prosecutorial misconduct that include withholding evidence and conducting surveillance on the defence.

Attorneys for Special Operations Chief Edward Gallagher plan to ask a military court Wednesday in San Diego to dismiss the case or remove the prosecutor and, possibly, have the judge himself step aside.

“Gallagher’s case has been irreparably corrupted by a government campaign of outrageous and illegal conduct,” attorney Tim Parlatore said in the opening salvo of his motion to dismiss the charges. “This prosecution threatens to make an unequivocal farce of our justice system.”

The motion comes with Gallagher’s trial less than two weeks away and amid mounting pressure from the defence after lawyers discovered prosecutors planted tracking software in emails sent to the defence team and a journalist that may have violated attorney-client privilege and other constitutional rights.

The Navy has said it did nothing wrong and has no plans to remove the prosecutor. A spokesman wouldn’t comment on the motions.

Among the evidence apparently kept from the defence were results of a polygraph exam Gallagher was given weeks before his arrest on charges that he fatally stabbed an injured young teenage militant and picked off civilians from a sniper’s perch.

Gallager knew at the time he was under investigation and denied committing any war crimes during the test, Parlatore said in court papers. Gallagher was told he passed the exam.

Parlatore said he only knows about the exam because his client told him about it and investigation documents showed efforts to schedule the test.

Polygraphs, commonly referred to as lie-detector tests, are not admissible in civilian or military courts because they are “not an indication of truth,” said Gary Solis, a former military judge and Marine Corps prosecutor who teaches law at Georgetown.

Passing such a test means the person answered most of the key questions without any indication of lying.

It’s debatable whether the results would be considered evidence of innocence, and therefore the prosecution would not necessarily have to turn them over to the defence, Solis said.

The judge could admonish the defence for revealing polygraph results because it could taint the jury in the case, Solis said.

The effort to get the case thrown out comes as President Donald Trump has considered pardoning several service members accused of war crimes, including Gallagher, who has pleaded not guilty.

Gallagher’s family has lobbied vigorously for his freedom and dozens of Republican lawmakers have rallied to his cause.

Prosecutors have said Gallagher stabbed the injured militant and then posed for a photo with his corpse for his re-enlistment ceremony. He sent a text to fellow SEALs later saying, “I got this one with my hunting knife.”

Parlatore dismissed that as a joke that reflects the dark humour of a warrior. No blood was found on the knife by forensics experts, he added.

Parlatore said he’s aware of evidence that showed at least one member of Gallagher’s squad practiced medical procedures on the militant when he was dead or nearly dead, which might indicate he died from a different cause.

He said witnesses would be willing to testify to that, but prosecutors have said they’re unaware of anything performed on him that was not medically necessary or any alternative cause of death.

Parlatore also claimed that prosecutors can’t prove that Gallagher shot a young girl and old man because charges of attempted murder are based only on rumours and inadmissible hearsay.

Gallagher faces trial June 10.

___

Melley reported from Los Angeles.

Julie Watson And Brian Melley, The Associated Press



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By The Wall of Law May 29, 2019 Off

Top Takeaways from AP’s report on Italy’s ‘Pain League’

An Associated Press investigation finds that managers with Purdue Pharma’s international arm — Mundipharma — have been caught up in a sprawling corruption case in Italy alleging they paid a prominent pain doctor to help push opioids. The scandal has been unfolding in Italy with little notice, even as the United States tries to undo the prescription opioid bonanza that helped jumpstart an epidemic that has killed 400,000.

WHY IT MATTERS: This is the first known case outside the U.S. where employees of the pharmaceutical empire owned by the billionaire Sackler family have been criminally implicated, more than a decade after Purdue executives were convicted in the U.S. over misleading the public about the addictiveness of OxyContin.

DETAILS:

— Hundreds of pages of investigative files and wiretap transcripts, obtained by the AP, detail how a prominent Italian doctor allegedly helped Mundipharma officials in Italy and other pharmaceutical executives counter government warnings about spiking opioid consumption and the risk of abuse.

— Dr. Guido Fanelli is accused of taking kickbacks from a group he called “The Pain League.” Fanelli allegedly wrote studies, organized conferences and co-ordinated with groups that were acting in the industry’s interest. The message trumpeted, the AP found, was that there’s an epidemic of chronic pain, opioids are the solution and addiction fears are exaggerated.

— Prosecutors say “The Pain League” included executives from Mundipharma’s Italian branch, the Italian arm of German-based Grunenthal and several Italian companies. Spokesmen for Mundipharma and Grunenthal said the corporate offices were unaware of the alleged improprieties and believed payments were for legitimate services. They said their companies have since overhauled compliance and ethics policies and are committed to being transparent about the addictiveness of opioids.

THE PROMINENT DOCTOR:

— Fanelli is well-known in Italy. As a chief of the anesthesiology and pain therapy department at Maggiore Hospital in Parma, he often appeared on television to talk about chronic pain. He’s also the “father” of a 2010 law that made opioids easier to prescribe. Prosecutors allege he began meeting with pharma executives in 2009, as he was helping to draft the law.

— Fanelli has been suspended without pay and barred from practicing medicine pending resolution of the case. Preliminary hearings began in May.

— In Italy, opioid consumption has increased, though authorities say widespread addiction has not taken root due to strict regulations and a cultural skepticism of the drugs — both of which Fanelli apparently worked to reverse.

BIGGER PICTURE:

— In the U.S., some 2,000 lawsuits have been filed against Purdue Pharma and other companies, alleging aggressive marketing helped jumpstart America’s opioid epidemic. The companies deny this; Purdue spokesman Bob Josephson said marketing was in line with government regulations in the U.S. Purdue and Mundipharma are both owned by the Sackler family.

— In the Italy case: “They’re using the same playbook that worked in the United States, despite knowing that it led to a public health catastrophe,” said Andrew Kolodny, executive director of Physicians for Responsible Opioid Prescribing. A Mundipharma spokesman denied that. The Italian branches of Mundipharma and Grunenthal accepted fines in January. Two Mundipharma managers agreed to plea bargains, though their lawyer says they did not acknowledge guilt.

— The U.S. has backed away from recommending opioids for chronic pain. Nevertheless, companies have continued pushing the drugs in other countries, and consumption is growing. Researchers in Brazil report, for example, that prescription opioid sales have increased 465 per cent in six years.

GO DEEPER:

READ AP’S FULL INVESTIGATION HERE .

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The AP’s reporting is funded in part by a grant from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.

___

If you are a doctor, law enforcement officer, pharmaceutical employee or resident living outside of the U.S. and have concerns about opioid availability or addiction in your country, please contact AP National Writer Claire Galofaro at [email protected] or on Twitter at @clairegalofaro

The Associated Press

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source https://toronto.citynews.ca/2019/05/29/top-takeaways-from-aps-report-on-italys-pain-league/

By The Wall of Law May 29, 2019 Off

AP Report: ‘Pain League’ allegedly pushed opioids in Italy

PARMA, Italy — Managers with Mundipharma, the international arm of Purdue Pharma, have been swept up in a corruption case in Italy alleging they and other pharmaceutical executives paid a prominent pain doctor to help push more opioids in this country long leery of the powerful painkillers.

It is the first known case outside the U.S. where employees of the pharmaceutical empire owned by the billionaire Sackler family have been criminally implicated, more than a decade after Purdue executives were convicted over misleading the American public about the addictiveness of OxyContin.

Investigative files obtained by The Associated Press detail how Dr. Guido Fanelli was allegedly paid to help promote painkillers by an alliance of pharmaceutical managers he called “The Pain League.” Prosecutors say Fanelli wrote articles, organized conferences and helped counter government warnings that opioid consumption was spiking and that physicians should be cautious. The message trumpeted, the AP found, was that there’s an epidemic of chronic pain, opioids are the solution and addiction fears are exaggerated.

Those are the same practices, experts contend, the pharmaceutical industry employed in the U.S. that helped create an addiction crisis that has claimed 400,000 lives.

“It makes me feel sick more than anything else,” said U.S. Rep. Katherine Clark , who sent a letter to the World Health Organization in 2017 warning that Mundipharma was repeating the “deceptive and dangerous practices” of Purdue, which faces some 2,000 lawsuits in the United States over its promotion of opioids. The letter implored the agency to act — before the American epidemic becomes a pandemic.

The case Italian prosecutors lay out offers a look at how Big Pharma executives still pushed opioids abroad even after the cause and consequences of the U.S. epidemic had become apparent.

As the U.S. market contracts, opioid consumption is climbing overseas. Canada and Australia are already following America’s catastrophic course, with rising rates of addiction and death. Others may be on the cusp of crisis: Overdoses are increasing in Sweden, Norway, Ireland and England, fueled by prescription painkillers and the illicit drug trade. Researchers in Brazil report that prescription opioid sales have increased 465 per cent in six years.

Italian opioid consumption has increased, though authorities say widespread addiction has not taken root due to strict regulations and a cultural skepticism of the drugs — both of which Fanelli apparently worked to reverse.

According to the investigative file, over a period of years, 464,000 euros from Mundipharma (about $500,000) and 640,855 euros from Grunenthal (about $700,000) flowed into businesses Fanelli allegedly set up to hide the payments. Spokesmen for Mundipharma Europe and Grunenthal, based in Germany, said the corporate offices were unaware of the alleged scheme and believed the payments went toward legitimate services.

Mundipharma’s network of companies operates in more than 120 countries, and its emerging markets division has expanded into Asia, Africa and Latin America. Grunenthal, too, sells drugs in more than 100 markets.

Both companies said they have conducted extensive internal investigations and overhauled compliance and ethics policies. Mundipharma Europe spokesman Patrice Grand said the company “has transformed and redeemed itself” in the wake of the scandal. It fired two managers prosecutors allege were involved, including Marco Filippini, general manager for southern Europe.

Purdue and Mundipharma are both owned by the Sackler family, well-known philanthropists now facing lawsuits and public scrutiny for Purdue’s promotion of OxyContin. Purdue agreed to pay a $270 million settlement this year in a case brought by the state of Oklahoma, but the company has vehemently defended itself. Spokesman Bob Josephson noted a judge this month dismissed a lawsuit in North Dakota after finding the company cannot control how doctors prescribe its drugs and how individuals use them.

Hundreds more lawsuits remain pending, many alleging that Purdue and other companies paid “key opinion leaders,” often prominent pain doctors, to add a veneer of science to commercial claims about the safety of opioids for chronic pain. Prescriptions quadrupled between 1999 and 2010 in the U.S., and overdoses climbed.

In Italy, Fanelli was a chief of the anesthesiology and pain therapy department at Maggiore Hospital in Parma and called himself the father of a 2010 law that made opioids easier to prescribe, which he championed as necessary to ease suffering.

In 2009, as he was helping to draft the law, prosecutors allege he began meeting with executives from the Italian branches of Mundipharma and Grunenthal and Italian companies including Molteni and Angelini. Molteni did not respond to requests for comment. Dario Romano, a lawyer representing Angelini and one of its managers, said his clients did nothing wrong.

Carabinieri police stumbled onto the case during another investigation, then bugged Fanelli’s cellphone and office.

“I created a system,” police allegedly heard Fanelli brag. “That is the business of pain.”

In addition to publishing pro-opioid position papers, he also planned a medical conference that prosecutors described as “upside down.” The director is supposed to pick the speakers and subjects, but Fanelli, prosecutors say, turned that over to the companies.

Additionally, prosecutors allege, the doctor co-ordinated with a non-profit hosting a 16-city roadshow professing about the plight of chronic pain and how opioids should be used for treatment. The president of the pain group’s board was the marketing manager of the Italian branch of Mundipharma.

“They’re using the same playbook that worked in the United States,” said Andrew Kolodny, executive director of Physicians for Responsible Opioid Prescribing, “despite knowing that it led to a public health catastrophe.”

Grand, the Mundipharma spokesman, rejected that, saying: “There is no such playbook.”

Mundipharma branches and Purdue have different managers and portfolios and do not share strategies, he said. The European operation has stopped promoting opioids, which now make up less than 40 per cent of Mundipharma’s European sales, he said.

Two Mundipharma executives — Filippini and Riccardo Cerbai, business and marketing director in Italy — accepted plea bargains in January, though a lawyer representing them said the pleas are not an admission of guilt. Grand said both were terminated in September. He said the company itself also did not acknowledge guilt in its agreement to accept a fine of 40,000 euros.

Grunenthal Italia was fined 50,000 euros. Grunenthal spokesman Stepan Kracala said the company, which operates mostly in Europe and Latin America, has implemented a new code of conduct, including an employee whistleblower hotline, and is committed to transparency about the addiction risk of its drugs.

Several Grunenthal executives are named in the investigation; their lawyers insist on their innocence. They are awaiting a series of hearings, after which a judge will decide whether they must stand trial.

Fanelli, through his attorney, declined to comment. He was suspended without pay and barred from practicing medicine pending resolution of the case.

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Galofaro is an AP national writer. She reported in the U.S. and Italy. D’Emilio, based in Rome, reported from Italy. The AP’s reporting is funded in part by a grant from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.

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If you are a doctor, law enforcement officer, pharmaceutical employee or resident living outside of the U.S. and have concerns about opioid availability or addiction in your country, please contact Galofaro at [email protected] or on Twitter at @clairegalofaro

Claire Galofaro And Frances D’Emilio, The Associated Press

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source https://toronto.citynews.ca/2019/05/29/ap-report-pain-league-allegedly-pushed-opioids-in-italy/

By The Wall of Law May 29, 2019 Off