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Trial Chamber VI of the International Criminal Court (ICC) announced Wednesday that the start of the Prosecutor v. Bosco Ntaganda will be the second or third week of July, rather than 2 June 2015. Opening statements from the prosecution are expected in August. This decision follows efforts by defense counsel to push the trial to November and support from prosecution and victims’ representatives to retain the original trial date. The Presidency of the ICC is currently considering an application from the Trial Chamber to hold opening statements in Bunia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, and consequentially the Registry requested approximately one month to facilitate this effort. Mr. Ntaganda is charged with thirteen counts of war crimes and five counts of crimes against humanity, for his involvement in crimes committed in Ituri, DRC between 2002 and 2003.
On Wednesday, April 22, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) heard final appeals directly from several accused of crimes committed in the Butare Region. Following submissions by the Prosecution, the accused including Pauline Nyiramasuhuko were given opportunity to speak to the Court before judges consider and make their decision later this year. The Case marks the final appeal for the ICTR. (For additional information, please click here)
Sudanese President and ICC Indictee Omar al-Bashir recently declined to travel to Indonesia for the Asian-African Summit, following election obligations and international calls for his arrest. The Sudanese Foreign Affairs Minister will replace him, and a spokesman said the decision was made so al-Bashir could “monitor post-election operations.” The International Criminal Court issued a first arrest warrant against al-Bashir in 2009 and again in 2010, on charges of crimes against humanity, war crimes, and genocide.
Pre-Trial Chamber II of the International Criminal Court on Tuesday confirmed several charges against five individuals in connection with the Case of Bemba, Kilolo, et. al. Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo, former defense counsel Aimé Kilolo Musamba, and three others allegedly enticed witnesses into providing false testimony, and the Court on Tuesday found there was sufficient evidence to send the case to trial. Chambers declined the Defence motion to stay proceedings while opting not to confirm charges for false or forged documents. Mr. Bemba is on trial for war crimes and crimes against humanity allegedly committed while serving as Commander-in-Chief of the Movement for the Liberation of Congo in DRC. (ICC)
Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Fatou Bensouda, on Tuesday described growing concern that the deteriorating security situation in Libya is threatening long-term justice efforts. Specifically, Ms. Bensouda highlighted attacks on civilians and armed conflicts, as well as the targeting of human rights workers, media, and legal workers as a threat to ICC investigations in the region. In response, international rights groups called on the United Nations Security Council to act and end impunity. (UN News Centre, HRW) For additional information, please click here
On Monday, 10 November, Human Rights Watch welcomed the decision by an African court to try 26 former members of Hissen Habre’s Regime. The accused allegedly committed murder, torture, and kidnapping, among other crimes, during Habre’s Dictatorship. Habre is currently awaiting trial in Dakar, Senegal at the Extraordinary African Chambers. (HRW)
The United Nations team that led an investigation into war crimes committed in North Korea on Wednesday asked that China support a referral of the case to the International Criminal Court. Michael Kirby was the chair of the commission of inquiry tasked with identifying any crimes committed and ongoing in North Korea. The resulting report outlined ongoing abuses, and has provided evidence to potentially refer North Korea to the ICC. Leaders were concerned Wednesday that China would use its veto power to block any action to refer North Korea. For additional information on this topic, please click here and click here (Reuters, Washington Post)
Richard Muhumuza, the Prosecutor General of Rwanda, vowed that he would collaborate with prosecutors and legal systems throughout Africa to pursue and apprehend remaining war crimes suspects. He spoke at the meeting of the General Assembly of the Africa Prosecutors’ Association, and appealed for cooperation to ensure extradition of suspects. Specifically, he spoke about individuals suspected of perpetrating crimes in the 1994 Rwanda Genocide, who had not been apprehended to date. (AllAfrica)
A report detailing evidence against three International Crimes Tribunal suspects will be turned over to the Prosecution, for consideration. The investigation arm of the ICT compiled a report against Forkan Mollick, Mohidur Rahman, and Afsar Hossain, in relation to alleged mass killings, rape, and forced conversions, among other charges. (BDNews)
On Tuesday, October 21, the Judge of Pre-Trial Chamber II at the ICC ordered the release of several individuals connected to the Case of Prosecutor v. Bemba, Kilolo, et. al. The Judge, Cuno Tarfusser, considered the circumstances of detention for several members of Mr. Bemba’s defense team, a defense witness, and one other individual from the DRC government. The four were detained in November 2013 for allegedly obstructing justice in the Case of Mr. Bemba. Judge Tarfusser ordered release for the four to ensure pre-trial detention was not disproportionately long for the charges. A confirmation of charges decision is anticipated, and any corresponding detention will be decided at that time. (ICC Press Release)
On Monday, the ex-mayor of Providencia was arrested for allegedly perpetrating crimes including homicide and torture during the Pinochet Regime. Christian Labbe Galilea will be prosecuted along with nine other regime leaders, for acts committed as a member of the DINA Secret Police. The human rights division of the Chile Interior Ministry pursued the charges against the former military leaders, and indicated that they would contact Brazilian authorities regarding alleged torture training conducted in 1972-1973 in Brazil. Defense attorneys for Labbe said they would appeal the charges and seek unlawful association charges. (BBC, Reuters) For additional information on this topic, please click here.
The International Crimes Tribunal – 1 announced it would consider charges against three accused on November 5. The three suspects, Sheikh Sirajul Haque, Khan Akram Hossain, and Abdul Latif Talukdar, allegedly committed murder and other crimes during the Liberation War of 1971. Mr. Haque was said to have killed more than 650 civilians, while the two other individuals were alleged to have converted hundreds of Hindus and murdered several civilians. (Daily Star)
On Friday, 7 March 2014 Trial Chamber II of the International Criminal Court (ICC) found Germain Katanga guilty as an accessory, for murder, attacking civilian populations, destroying property, and pillaging in the Ituri Region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The Court regarded Mr. Katanga’s assistance to the Ngiti militia, before and during its assault on Bogoro Village on 24 February 2003, as amounting to war crimes and a crime against humanity (namely, murder).
The Court earlier amended charges of direct, or principal, liability against the defendant, including allegations that Mr. Katanga gave orders to the Ngiti militia and that he ordered the attack on Bogoro itself. As such, the Court considered Article 23(3)(d) of the Rome Statute in deciding that Mr. Katanga acted as an intermediary between weapons suppliers and those directly responsible for attacks in Ituri in February 2003.
Judge Christine Van den Wyngaert dissented based on her concern that the Defence was not afforded proper notice of the accessory liability charges, and that it subsequently rendered the trial unfair. Mr. Katanga will be sentenced at a later date.
Krstic cleared of ICTY contempt charge: On Thursday, 18 July 2013, the Trial Chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) acquitted Radislav Krstic of contempt of court. Krstic, who was subpoenaed as a key witness in the case of Prosecutor v. Radovan Karadzic and expected to testify in January 2013, refused to testify on account of his poor mental health. He was charged with contempt of court and tried this past May. On Thursday a majority of the ICTY Trial Chamber deemed Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome, which Krtic asserted as a defense, to be adequate grounds for refusing to testify. Krstic himself was convicted and sentenced in 2004 for aiding and abetting the Srebrenica Massacre. He is serving 35 years in prison.
Kenya Prosecution Case loses additional witnesses: Last week, two prosecution witnesses withdrew from the case against Uhuru Kenyatta at the International Criminal Court. Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda and the Prosecution team released a document last week explaining that two witnesses would no longer be able to testify because of serious security concerns. The loss of the two witnesses highlights ongoing difficulties encountered by the Prosecution team, to craft its case against the Kenyan President-elect. Kenyatta was charged with crimes against humanity, for his involvement in the 2007 post-election violence that killed approximately 1,000 and displaced hundreds of thousands. He is scheduled for trial 12 November 2013.
ICC rejects Libya request to delay Gaddafi transfer: On 18 July 2013 the Appeals Chamber at the International Criminal Court rejected an application by Libyan authorities to suspend the transfer of Saif al-Islam Gaddafi to the ICC for trial for crimes against humanity. The decision came after a request in June of this year, when Libya applied for a delay of Gaddafi’s transfer until his ongoing appeal against the Pre-Trial Chamber’s admissibility decision was issued. Judges had denied Libya’s admissibility challenge, saying a trial at the ICC would not impose an unjust domestic outcome. The ICC on Thursday reminded Libya of its obligation to turn Gaddafi over for international prosecution. (For additional information on this topic, please click here)
ICT of Bangladesh to proceed with in absentia trial of two alleged militia leaders: On Monday, 24 June, the International Crimes Tribunal of Bangladesh announced its plan to try two individuals in absentia. The trial of Chowdhury Mueen-Uddin, who resides in Britain, and Ashrafuzzaman Khan, who resides in the United States, will begin 15 July to contemplate alleged war crimes the men committed as members of the former Al-Badr militia and Jamaat-e-Islami political party. Prosecutors allege that the two men were responsible for killing or encouraging the killing of academics and other leaders during the 1971 Liberation War between Pakistan and now-independent Bangladesh. Both men will reportedly receive defense counsel in their absence, and if convicted face the death penalty. Many international NGOs and watch groups have criticized the death penalty sentence that the ICT is willing to extend.
German war crimes prosecutor commences investigation against U.S. suspect: A German Prosecutor specializing in war crimes and Nazi-era crimes initiated investigations into alleged crimes committed by a Minnesota man, suspected of leading an SS unit in killing Polish civilians during World War II. The office investigating Nazi-era war crimes will determine if there is enough evidence to try Michael Karkoc for murder and accessory to murder, the only two charges not limited by the German statute of limitations for such crimes.
Kenyatta Trial start date announced: The International Criminal Court on Thursday, 21 June announced that the trial of former Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta would begin 12 November 2013, following several postponements and argument from both the prosecution and defense. The decision by Trial Chamber V was issued after all parties, including victims’ representatives, submitted timelines for a trial start. Judges said Thursday that defense required additional time to prepare testimony.