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- January 1 - Yaser Abdel Said murders his two teenage daughters, Sarah and Amina, then goes on the run.
- February 14 - Northern Illinois University shooting
- February 24 - Fidel Castro steps down as President of Cuba, though he retains his position as First Secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba.
- March 6 - Mercaz HaRav massacre
- April 10 - Femen is founded.
- April 19 - Elisabeth Fritzl manages to escape from her 24-year imprisonment by her father Josef Fritzl after Josef agrees to let Elisabeth take her critically ill infant daughter (fathered by Josef) to the hospital to seek medical care. Josef is subsequently taken into custody after Elisabeth tells authorities about what happened to her.
- May 7 - Dmitry Medvedev is elected President of Russia, succeeding Vladimir Putin.
- June 30 - Jeffrey Epstein faces his first criminal conviction for engaging in child prostitution. He serves 13 months in federal custody.
- July 14 - Omar al-Bashir is indicted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for war crimes, genocide, and crimes against humanity committed as part of the Darfur Genocide, making him the first sitting head to state to be indicted by the ICC.
- July 21 - Radovan Karadžić, the first President of Republika Srpska, is arrested in Belgrade, Serbia after spending 12 years as a fugitive.
- August 15 - Hissène Habré is sentenced to death in absentia for war crimes and crimes against humanity.
- August 18 - Pervez Musharraf resigns as President of Paksitan.
- September 23 - Matti Saari commits the Kauhajoki school shooting in Kauhajoki, Western Finland; killing 10 people and injuring 11 others before committing suicide.
- October 21 - Ruben "Doc" Cavazos is arrested for racketeering.
- November 26 to 29 - The 2008 Mumbai attacks take place in Mumbai where Islamic terrorist group Lashkar-e-Taiba carry out coordinated shooting and bombing attacks that kill 166 people.
- December 11 - The skeletal remains of 2-year old Caylee Anthony are found in a wooded area near her home. Her mother, Casey Anthony, is charged with her murder.
- December 11 - Bernard Madoff is arrested in connection to a Ponzi scheme.
- December 27 - Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert launches Operation Cast Lead to try and force Hamas out of Gaza.
- October 1 - Sky Carmack
- January 21 - Kenneth Parnell
- January 27 - Suharto
- February 14 - Steven Kazmierczak
- February 20 - Nachman Dushanski
- March 6 - Alaa Abu Dhein
- March 21 - John List
- April 13 - Nathaniel Bar-Jonah
- June 17 - Tsutomu Miyazaki
- July 10 - Ahmad Suradji
- July 28 - Midhat Mursi
- August 11 - Dursun Karataş
- September 23 - Matti Saari
- November 10 - Arthur Shawcross
- December 15 - León Febres Cordero
- December 19 - James Bevel
- January 1 - Sarah & Amina Said
- June 4 - Travis Alexander
- July 15 - Caylee Anthony
- July 30 - Tim McLean
- September 2 - Mark "Papa" Guardado