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After 43 years in isolation, US man to be freed

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Washington: A US judge has ordered release of a man who has spent 43 years in solitary confinement for a crime he denied committing.

US District Judge James J. Brady on Monday ruled that Albert Woodfox, 68, should be released from prison and should not face a third trial due to “exceptional circumstances”, including his age and poor health and the court’s “lack of confidence in the state to provide a fair third trial”, CNN reported.

Woodfox is the last imprisoned member of the “Angola 3”, a group of prisoners who were accused in the 1972 killing of guard Brent Miller at the Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola.

Woodfox, who was originally imprisoned on an armed robbery conviction, has said that he had tried to point out injustices at the prison and was targeted and wrongfully accused because of his activism.

Robert King, another one of the “Angola 3”, was freed after his conviction in the killing of a fellow inmate was overturned in 2001.

The second member of the group, Herman Wallace was released in 2013 after a judge vacated his murder conviction and sentence. He was suffering from terminal liver cancer and died just days later after his release.

A federal appeals court overturned Woodfox’s conviction last year.

However, the Louisiana Attorney General’s Office is seeking an emergency stay to block the judge’s decision, and said “make sure this murderer stays in prison and remains fully accountable for his actions”.

Amnesty International praised the decision as a big step toward justice. (IANS)

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The United States Of America Drops Out Of Top 20 Corrupt Countries

For the 2018 index, 180 countries were surveyed. Denmark and New Zealand topped the list while Somalia, Syria, and South Sudan were at the bottom.

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USA, Corruption
U.S. President Donald Trump is seen through his transparent teleprompter as he speaks during the Missile Defense Review announcement at the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, U.S., January 17, 2019. VOA

A global anti-corruption watchdog says the United States has dropped four spots in its list of nations’ anti-corruption efforts and is now no longer listed in the top 20 for the first time.

Acting U.S. Representative at Transparency International, Zoe Reiter, calls a four point drop in the 2018 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) a “red flag.”

She says it comes at a time when the U.S. is experiencing “threats to its system of checks and balances” and an “erosion of ethical norms at the highest levels of power.”

USA. government
Caravans from Central America have inflamed the debate over U.S. immigration policy, with U.S. President Donald Trump using the migrants to try to secure backing for his plan to build a border wall on the frontier with Mexico., VOA

“If this trend continues, it would indicate a serious corruption problem in a country that has taken a lead on the issue globally,” Reiter says.

The United States scored a 71 in the perceptions index after scoring 75 the previous year.

“The expert opinion captured by the CPI supports the deep concern over corruption in government reported by America in our 2017 survey. Both experts and the public believe the situation is getting worse,” Reiter said.

Anti-Corruption
Bulgarian anti-corruption protesters march during a demonstration in downtown Sofia, VOA

Transparency International uses several criteria for measuring how well a country is fighting corruption, including checks and balances on political power, controls on conflicts of interest and private influence on government, and voter suppression.

Also Read: World’s Anti-Corruption Day

For the 2018 index, 180 countries were surveyed. Denmark and New Zealand topped the list while Somalia, Syria, and South Sudan were at the bottom. (VOA)