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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.
Libya will appeal ICC’s admissibility decision regarding Saif: Libya announced this week that it would file an official appeal against the International Criminal Court’s decision of 31 May 2013 which rejected Libya’s admissibility challenge and reminded Libya of its obligation to surrender Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi to the ICC. At a joint news conference on Sunday 2 June, Libya’s Prime Minister Al Zeidan and Justice Minister Salah al-Marghani stated that an official appeal would be lodged with the ICC and that ”a team of Libyan and international experts are discussing the preparation of the appeal.” The ICC, in its admissibility decision, said Libya had not shown sufficient capacity to investigate and prosecute the son of ousted dictator Muammar Gaddafi for war crimes and crimes against humanity. (For additional information on this topic, please 1. click here and 2. click here)
Ruto trial delayed at ICC: On Monday, 3 June, judges at the International Criminal Court scheduled the trial start date for Kenyan President-elect William Ruto for 10 September. The original start date of 28 May was postponed to allow prosecutors and defence attorneys the opportunity to prepare witnesses and conduct further evidence investigations. Judges presented their decision to delay trial for Ruto and co-accused Joshua Arap-Sang with recommendations that portions of the trial be conducted in Kenyan courts or neutral Tanzania. (For additional information on this topic, please click here)
HRW report identifies ICC suspect Kushayb in April attack: Human Rights Watch released a report this week, detailing how Sudanese militia leader Ali Kushayb was involved in an attack on a central Darfur town earlier this year. Kushayb and other members of pro-Sudanese Government Janjaweed fighters reportedly travelled to Abu Jeradil and attacked a rival tribe in early April. Kushayb was indicted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes he allegedly committed during 2007 Janjaweed attacks in the Darfur Region. (For additional information on this topic, please click here)
AU leaders request Kenyatta transfer; suggest ICC bias: Leaders of the African Union congregated Friday to pass a resolution urging the International Criminal Court to send the case of Uhuru Kenyatta back to domestic Kenyan Courts. Kenyatta, along with Vice President William Ruto, faces trial 9 July. He was reelected to Kenya’s Presidency in March. Delegates at the AU summit suggested they would take their concerns over Kenyatta’s case to the United Nations, citing the high number of ICC indictees who hail from or are leaders of African countries. (For additional information on this topic, please 1. click here and 2. click here).
ICTY recognizes 20 years since inception: The International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia marked its twentieth anniversary on Saturday, prompting ICTY and UN officials to reflect on the service of the Tribunal. President and Judge Theodor Meron acknowledged the significant contributions to international jurisprudence and individual accountability the Tribunal has made. The Security Council, who authorized the creation of the tribunal through Resolution 827 in May 1993, released a statement commending the work of the Tribunal and welcoming the start of the ICTY Residual Mechanism. The Mechanism will carry out the mandate of the court, to try the remaining individuals most responsible for atrocities committed in the former Yugoslav Territory after 1991. (For additional information on this topic, please click here).
ICT of Bangladesh to try two accused in absentia: The International Crimes Tribunal-2 of Bangladesh on Monday decided to try two of its accused in absentia. After appealing to two members of the Pakistani Occupation Army via newspaper, the ICT-2 opted to proceed with the trial of Chowdhury Mueen-Uddin and Ashrafuzzaman Khan, without them present. Prosecutors filed war crimes charges against the two high-ranking members in late April and arrest warrants were issued 2 May. Mueen-Uddin and Khan were appointed state counsel to represent them in their absence.
Khmer Rouge victims to testify this week: In what is being called a “key moment” in the trial of two accused Khmer Rouge leaders, civilians will have the opportunity to testify before the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia. Victims will present their experience of the Khmer Rouge regime before judges, prosecutors, and defense attorneys in the cases of Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan, as an effort at national reconciliation. Attorneys for the victims pursued this opportunity for their clients to testify against the accused so that the Court could consider their experiences in its judgment, its allocation of reparations, and also for the public to hear first hand accounts of the atrocities.
Alleged Ouattara supporter apprehended in Ivory Coast: On Saturday, authorities in Cote d’Ivoire announced that they had a former member of Alassane Ouattara’s military regime in custody. Amade Oueremi allegedly ordered attacks against supporters of Laurent Gbagbo during violent post-election protests in 2011. Then-outgoing President Gbagbo refused to leave office after national elections declared Ouattara the victor. Authorities suggest Oueremi will be transferred to Abidjan, where he will face charges. Gbagbo was arrested shortly after the riots and transferred to The Hague, where he is awaiting trial at the International Criminal Court.
UN Human Rights Office indicates CAH may have been committed in Nigeria: A spokesperson for the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights said this weekend that Boko Haram’s recent violent attacks could constitute crimes against humanity. Rupert Colville said Friday that the hundreds of civilian deaths in Nigeria, largely accredited to the militant group Boko Haram, were of great concern to the international community. Anything amounting to widespread and systematic attacks or ethnic cleansing against the population could be prosecuted. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon echoed these sentiments.
LRA casualties surpass 100,000 according to UN: On Monday the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights released a key figure from its report on the impact of the Lord’s Resistance Army and civilian welfare in Central Africa. It concluded that over 100,000 individuals had been killed since 1987, during which time the LRA had also committed atrocities including child abduction and forced displacement. The LRA’s current leader, Joseph Kony, reportedly led the group in attacks against civilians in Uganda, and is thought to be on the run in neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic, or other speculated locations. He is wanted by the International Criminal Court for these crimes.
In the second judgment since its inception in 2002, the International Criminal Court acquitted Mathieu Ngudjolo Chui of allegedly committing crimes against humanity and war crimes. Trial Chamber II decided unanimously that the prosecution failed to show that Chui was individually criminally responsible for crimes committed by Lendu combatants during a conflict that ravaged Ituri Province in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Specifically, judges considered the February 2003 attack by Lendu militants on Bogoro Village, which Chui allegedly commanded, and which prosecutors said established liability for three counts of crimes against humanity and seven counts of war crimes. Trial Chamber II suggested that, while it found Chui not guilty of the ten counts, its judgment was not a proclamation of innocence, nor could its judgment diminish the suffering that the citizens of Bogoro endured during the attack.
A subsequent hearing was scheduled to discuss the release of Chui from ICC detention, while prosecutors prepared to appeal the acquittal. Chui’s case was joined with that of Congolese leader Germaine Katanga in 2008, but earlier this fall Trial Chamber II opted to deliver its judgment against Katanga at a later date.
Kenya riots persist following politician’s murder: Violent protests continued in the Western Kenyan city of Kisumu on Wednesday, following the killing of a local politician and businessman, Shem Kwega. Kwega and his wife were murdered in Kisumu early this week, inspiring protests throughout the city that quickly turned violent. Kwega was running for a Parliamentary seat and was a member of the Orange Democratic Movement, of which Raila Odinga is also a member. (For additional information on this topic, please click here)
Perisic Appeal begins at ICTY: Tuesday marked the start of the appeal case for Momcilo Perisic, who was earlier convicted for aiding and abetting war crimes in Bosnia and Serbia during the Balkan War, and sentenced to 27 years in prison. Perisic argued Tuesday that he cannot be convicted for crimes committed by an army operating in an entirely different country. Prosecutors are also appealing the earlier acquittal for Perisic’s direct role as leader of the Yugoslav Army. (For additional information on this topic, please click here)
New Libyan Government approved; protests reported: On Wednesday, the Libyan Assembly met and agreed to terms for a new government, after adjourning its session Tuesday in an attempt to quell increasing civilian protests. The new administration was proposed by Prime Minister Ali Zeidan, and incorporated members from various parties. While some members expressed concern, they indicated that a new government framework was crucial for Libyan progress. Protesters hindered the vote Tuesday when they entered the voting venue; after security removed the dissidents, protests were said to continue outside.
Mauritania Sends Senussi to Libya: On Wednesday, the former Chief Intelligence Officer of Muammar Gaddafi’s regime, Abdullah al-Senussi, was transported to Libya from Mauritania. It is expected that he will face trial in Tripoli, for crimes and human rights violations he perpetuated under the Gaddafi regime. The International Criminal Court also seeks to try al-Senussi for crimes against humanity, while France already delivered a sentence against al-Senussi for his part in a 1989 airline bombing over Niger. (For additional information on this topic, please click here)
R2P Discourse Renewed at UN: In a follow-up to the 2005 World Summit of the United Nations General Assembly, this week international parties called for a clear and united stand on the issue of “Responsibility to Protect,” or R2P. Since 2009, international leaders and UN policy makers have met to discuss the definition and scope of R2P, and Wednesday Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon implored the international community to accept the principle. R2P would hold states accountable for atrocities committed within their borders, and in extreme circumstances, provide for scenarios of humanitarian intervention where states fail to protect their citizens.
Uganda captures LRA fighters: In its quest to locate and apprehend Lord’s Resistance Army Leader Dominic Ongwen, members of the Ugandan Army reported Wednesday that they had apprehended and killed two top men within the rebel group. Ongwen, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes, allegedly reports directly to LRA leader Joseph Kony, also wanted by the ICC. According to reports, Ongwen escaped capture and the Ugandan Army continues its hunt. (For additional information on this topic, please click here)
Gbagbo confirmation of charges hearings delayed over health concerns: On Friday, the International Criminal Court announced that it would delay the start of the confirmation of charges hearing against Laurent Gbagbo. Following reports by Gbagbo’s defense counsel that the former Ivory Coast President was not well enough to sit through the proceedings, judges indicated they would allow three doctors to examine Gbagbo, and resume trial after a formal report was submitted. Gbagbo is charged with four counts of crimes against humanity, including murder and persecution, for refusing to relinquish power after the 2010 National elections.
UN condemns torture; deplores SC for inaction on Syria: The United Nations General Assembly voted to condemn the Syrian regime for increasing violence, during a special session held last Friday. The measure, introduced by Saudi Arabia and co-sponsored by several other states, also condemned the Security Council for its failure to take meaningful steps to end the violence. Russia and China have continued to deny any Security Council initiatives, and the two veto-wielding powers voted against the GA resolution Friday. The resolution called on the Council to ensure that Syria acts in accordance with international resolutions, and also to oversee a transition of political power. (For additional information on this topic, please 1. click here and 2. click here)
Palestine to renew state bid before UNGA in coming months: Palestinian leaders announced that President Mahmoud Abbas would likely renew the Palestinian bid for statehood before the United Nations General Assembly this September. Rather than apply before the UN Security Council, as the Palestinian Authority did last year, the PA will apply before the General Assembly to attain non-member observer state status. The application is more likely to be successful before the GA, and would present the opportunity to participate at the International Criminal Court.
Senussi will face trial before extradition, Mauritania declares: On Sunday the President of Mauritania announced that Abdullah al-Senussi, wanted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes committed during his tenure as Libyan chief of military intelligence. President Ould Abdel Aziz said Senussi would be tried for his illegal entry into Mauritania, before he would be transferred to the ICC, France, or Libya, where he is wanted on further criminal counts.