11 January 2011

Shot US Congresswoman criticised tough Arizona immigration laws

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The man accused of attempting to assassinate US Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords has appeared in court to face charges of murder and attempted murder.

Representative Gabrielle Giffords, an Arizona Democrat, and 18 others were shot Saturday morning when a gunman opened fire on Giffords and others during her meeting with constituents.

Six of the victims died including the chief judge for the United States District Court for Arizona, John M Roll, and a nine-year-old girl.
The target of the attack, Giffords is in a critical condition but responding to basic commands, such as holding up the correct number of fingers.

The shootings have raised questions about potential political motives and the Pima County Sheriff Clarence W Dupnik blamed the “the toxic political environment in Arizona” for the situation.
 
Giffords has been an outspoken critic of Arizona’s tough immigration law, which allowed police officers to stop anyone at any time and request to view immediately a US Visa or proof of the right to be in the US. Giffords had also come under criticism for her vote in favour of the health care law.

Judge Roll had been involved in US immigration cases and had received death threats.

In the House, Republicans also postponed all legislation to be considered on the floor this week, including a vote to repeal the health care overhaul.

The gunman Jared Lee Loughner, 22, was remanded in custody and will appear in court again on 14 January.

President Barack Obama and his wife led a minute’s silence in memory of the Arizona shooting victims, and will travel today to Tucson to meet with the survivors and the families of the dead.


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