HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) — A retired U.S. Army soldier was fined $400 and given a suspended jail sentence for attempting to carry a gun and ammunition onto a plane in Zimbabwe.
Retired Sgt. Maj. Ronald Leon Johnson had been held in the renowned Chikurubi Prison for more than a week after he was arrested Feb. 15 at the Robert Gabriel Mugabe Airport in the capital, Harare.
He was checking in to a flight to the tourist town of Victoria Falls when airport security officials found a Glock 9 mm pistol and three magazines each with 15 rounds of ammunition in his suitcase, prosecutors said.
Prosecutors had asked for a 10-year prison term for Johnson, who pleaded guilty to charges of being in possession of an unlicensed gun and attempting to carry a gun and ammunition onto a plane without authorization.
The judge instead imposed the fine and a suspended 36-month jail term, and criticized prosecutors for “overemphasizing” Johnson’s military history to try and portray him as a potential terrorist.
The judge also said Johnson should be allowed to return home. His home address was listed as being in Woodbridge, Virginia, in court documents. The gun and ammunition would be confiscated, the judge ruled.
Johnson retired from the Army in 2005 after 20 years of service, according to prosecutors.
He had been on a 30-day vacation visa in the southern African nation since Feb. 5 and had visited tourist sites and the rural home of his Zimbabwean fiancée.
MOSCOW (AP) — Moscow may respond to Western sanctions by opting out of the last nuclear arms deal with the U.S., cutting diplomatic ties with Western nations and freezing their assets, a senior Russian official warned as Russia’s ties with the West dived to new lows over its invasion of Ukraine.
Dmitry Medvedev, the deputy head of Russia’s Security Council chaired by President Vladimir Putin, also warned that Moscow could restore the death penalty after Russia was removed from Europe’s top rights group — a chilling statement that shocked human rights activists in a country that hasn’t had capital punishment for a quarter-century.
The sanctions placed new tight restrictions on Russian financial operations, imposed a draconian ban on technology exports to Russia and froze the assets of Putin and his foreign minister, a harsh response that dwarfed earlier Western restrictions. Washington and its allies say that even tougher sanctions are possible, including kicking Russia out of SWIFT, the dominant system for global financial transactions.
In sarcastic comments posted on a Russian social platform, Medvedev dismissed the sanctions as a show of Western “political impotence” that will only consolidate the Russian leadership and foment anti-Western feelings.
“We are being driven out of everywhere, punished and threatened, but we don’t feel scared,” he said, mocking the sanctions imposed by the U.S. and its allies as an attempt to vindicate their past “shameful decisions, like a cowardly retreat from Afghanistan.”
Medvedev was placeholder president in 2008-2012 when Putin had to shift into the prime minister’s seat because of term limits. He then let Putin reclaim the presidency and served as his prime minister for eight years.
WASHINGTON (AP) — The judge President Joe Biden has chosen to fulfill his historic pledge to name the first Black woman to the Supreme Court would also bring rare experience of defending poor people charged with crimes.
While Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson shares the elite educational background of current justices, she would be the first justice since Thurgood Marshall, the legendary civil rights lawyer who was the first black person on the Court, with significant criminal defense work on her resume. She also spent time advocating on behalf of people held without charge at Guantanamo Bay.
“I can only hope that my life and career, my love of this country and the Constitution, and my commitment to upholding the rule of law and the sacred principles upon which this great nation was founded, will inspire future generations of Americans,” she said at the White House unveiling of her nomination.
Jackson, 51, is a graduate of Harvard University and Harvard Law School and currently a federal appeals court judge in Washington. She spent a year as a young lawyer working for the justice she would replace, Justice Stephen Breyer, who is retiring.
Biden said in introducing Jackson that she learned from Breyer’s “willingness to work with colleagues with different viewpoints.” And he said her experience serving as a trial court judge before her nomination to an appeals court was also “a critical qualification” in his view. Of the current court, only Justice Sonia Sotomayor — the court’s first Latina — ever served as a trial judge.
Jackson could face some criticism because she doesn’t have a very long record as a federal appeals court judge. Biden nominated her to her current position on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit last year.