Archive for category Crimes against Humanity

15 April 2014 – NEWS ABOUT THE COURTS

ICTY rejects Mladic’s Rule 98bis application and find case to answer: On Tuesday, 15 April 2014, Trial Chamber I of the ICTY rejected Ratko Mladic’s 98 bis application for acquittal, a rule under the Tribunal’s Rules of Procedure and Evidence that allows the Tribunal to acquit a defendant after an oral hearing if there exists no evidence to support a conviction. Upon dismissing the application, the Chamber held that even if Mladic has a defense to all of the counts against him, there is evidence to support all of the charges against him. (ICTY).

Libyan trial of Ex-Gaddafi Officials postponed amid concerns of a fair trial: On Monday, 14 April 2014, the Libyan government opened and subsequently adjourned the trial against Muammar Gaddafi’s sons and his former officials, due to incomplete investigations; particularly the investigation of evidence against Saadi Gaddafi remains incomplete. The case will proceed on 27 April 2014, in order to allow the investigators more preparation time and to set up video links for the sons and officials who were not brought to the court for security reasons. Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International continue to express that the defendants’ right to a fair trial have been violated. The groups are concerned that not all of the defendants have had access to lawyers; that the defense teams have been restricted in their ability to assess evidence and case files; that interrogation strategies and detention conditions have been unfair; that Libya recently amended its Code of Criminal procedure to allow trials through video links, meaning the defendants, all of whom are being held in prisons and one of whom is being held in a secret location by a militia, will not physically appear at their trials; and that the Libyan justice system is generally unstable, in part because previous attacks against lawyers and judges in Libya have resulted in the suspension of courts throughout parts of Libya. The defense lawyers raised concerns about insufficient access to the case files in court. The ICC is still deliberating on the admissibility of the cases against Saif Gaddafi and Abdullah Al-Senussi, and a decision from the Appeals Chamber on whether the Libyan government is able to try them is still outstanding. (Reuters) (For more information on this topic, please click here, here, and here).

Ruto trial hears from satellite imagery expert and breaks for Easter: Lars Bromley, a UN specialist in satellite imagery, testified before the ICC in the case against Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto and Kenyan journalist Joshua Arap Sang, explaining that at least 506 buildings were deliberately burned down in the Rift Valley following the election, and that 190 more buildings were “possibly burnt.” He based his analysis on satellite images, the deliberate nature of the burnings being evident from burn patters. The defense disputed the expert’s testimony. The trial is currently on break for the Easter holiday, after which the prosecution will likely call a witness who was instrumental in the confirmation of charges against Ruto.  (Institute for War & Peace Reporting) (For additional information on this topic, please click here).

Habre defense team says trial is politically motivated: The defense team of former Chadian dictator Hissene Habre claims that the reasons behind his prosecution in Senegal were political and instigated by a Chadian spy agency. Habre, who is charged with having committed war crimes, crimes against humanity, and torture while he was in charge of Chad between 1982 and 1990, will stand trial in Senegal in 2015, where he was in exile for twelve years before being arrested last July. (Legalbrief Today).

ICTR Prosecutor asks for increased efforts to prosecute all suspects of 1994 crimes in Rwanda: In a commemoration address, Hassan Jallow, the chief prosecutor of the ICTR, asked for an increased effort to find and prosecute perpetrators of the genocide against Tutsis in 1994 who have not been tried, and that countries in which suspects of these crimes are located to transfer these alleged perpetrators to Rwanda in order to stand trial. He specifically mentioned Félicien Kabuga, Protais Mpiranya, and Augustin Bizimana, all of whom are fugitives and suspected of having played significant roles in the genocide. (AllAfrica).

UN High Commissioner for HR expresses concerns for amnesties in Nepal: Following the Nepalese government’s drafting of a law that would create a Truth and Reconciliation Commission and a Commission on Disappeared Persons, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay warned that this legislation would allow these two panels to recommend amnesties for human rights abuses that occurred in Nepal. The government denies the existence of amnesty possibilities in the legislation, saying that amnesty would only occur with the victims’ consent. (Reuters).

Amnesty claims CAH and war crimes escalating in Nigeria: Amnesty International issued a report stating that violence has increased in northeastern Nigeria due to a higher number of attacks by Boko Haram and responses by Nigerian security forces, which has resulted in the death of at least 1,500 people since the beginning of the year. According the group, these events may be war crimes and crimes against humanity, and the group urged other countries, the African Union, and the UN to launch investigations into these acts. Amnesty International has documented attacks carried out by both Boko Haram and Nigerian security forces that occurred in January, February, and March 2014. (Amnesty International).

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9 April 2014 – NEWS ABOUT THE COURTS

UN human rights chief: Atrocities committed by Syrian regime “far outweigh” rebel actions: On Tuesday, 8 April 2014, High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay briefed the U.N. Security Council on the human rights abuses committed in Syria. Pillay urged the deadlocked Security Council to refer to the ICC both the Syrian government and the opposition groups, but noted “the actions of the forces of the government—killings, cruelty, persons in detention, disappearances—far outweigh” those of the rebels. Syrian Ambassador Bashar Ja’afari dismissed Pillay’s comments as biased and claimed the High Commissioner had ignored numerous letters he sent documenting abuse by the opposition. (CBC News).

Atrocities in Rakhine State may amount to crimes against humanity: The latest attacks on aid groups in western Myanmar has caused severe shortages of water, food and medical supplies for Rohingya Muslims. Since last month, over 170 humanitarian aid workers were pulled from the Rakhine State, leaving some 700,000 people vulnerable. U.N. envoy Tomas Ojea Quintana said the recent attacks, coupled with the “long history of discrimination and persecution against the Rohingya community . . . could amount to crimes against humanity.” (Arab News).

UN investigator examines N. Korea abductions of Japanese citizens: Marzuki Darusman met with Japanese officials this week concerning the 1970s and 1980s abductions of Japanese citizens in North Korea. Darusman, a member of the U.N. commission that reported in February on North Korea’s crimes against humanity, recognized Japan’s assistance in preparing the report and discussed the next steps in the investigation. The U.N. report received favorable support by the Human Rights Council in March 2014 and is expected to be presented at the 17 April 2014, U.N. Security Council meeting. (Global Post).

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8 April 2014 – NEWS ABOUT THE COURTS

Sri Lanka will not cooperate with UN Inquiry into war crimes: On 7 April 2014, Gamini Lakshman Peiris, the Sri Lankan foreign minister, announced that Sri Lanka will not be cooperating with the UN probe into war crimes, decided through a resolution last month. Citing concerns about the legality and fairness of the probe, as well as conflicts of interest of the Sri Lankan government, the foreign minister explained that the government will not support the investigation into the alleged crimes, which the government has officially denied. (Al Jazeera).

African Commission asked to intervene in death sentence of 529 Egyptians: The Freedom of Justice Party (FJP), together with lawyers for the 529 Egyptians who received death sentences on 24 March 2014 for opposing the 2013 military coup in Egypt, has asked the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights to intervene in the sentences. Specifically, the FJP has urged the Commission to suspend the sentences, because the defendants’ death penalties violate the right to life and the right to a fair trial under the African Charter. (Middle East Monitor).

ECCC sets out foundation for second segment of Case 002: The ECCC determined the scope of the second segment of Case 002, against Khmer Rouge leaders Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan, who are facing—among others—charges of genocide, forced marriage, rape, and religious persecution. Though the 4 April 2014 severance order has not been made public, it adheres closely to requests made by the prosecutors; namely, that the charges to be addressed in this segment will serve as a representation, so that further segments will not need to be heard. The Chamber has decided not to include several crime sites the prosecution proposed, so as to maintain efficiency and manageability in the case. A trial date has not yet been announced. (The Phnom Penh Post).

Srebrenica survivors sue Dutch Government over peacekeepers failure to protect: The Mothers of Srebrenica, a group representing relatives of victims who were killed in the 1995 Srebrenica massacre, have filed a civil suit against the Dutch government, for failing to protect civilians during the attack by Bosnian Serb forces. Dutch peacekeepers in the area had been unable to stop the forces, and withdrew. The group tried to bring a suit in 2007 against the UN, but Dutch courts refused to hear it on the basis that the UN has immunity, a decision with which the ECtHR agreed in 2013. The current was put on hold until the case against the UN had been decided, and hearings began on Monday, 7 April 2014. (Sky News).

ICC hears testimony of 15th Prosecution witness in Ruto case: On Saturday, 5 April 2014, the 15th witness for the prosecution in the case against Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto testified before the ICC that a chief of the Kimumu area had made many trips to Eldoret town in a pick-up truck before the houses of the Kikuyu were burned. The truck carried black drums, ordinarily used for transporting water and oil, and was used by the chief for several such trips before the raid. The witness, who said that demonstrations had been peaceful before these events, was brought to Eldoret town when the houses were razed. (The Star).

South Korea will not host UN field office to investigate CAH in North Korea: On Monday, 7 April 2014, a diplomatic source of Seoul announced that the city will not be hosting a field office in order to support the UN probe into crimes against humanity allegedly committed by the North Korean government against its citizens. Though the source emphasized the importance of this investigation, South Korea fears worsening its relationship with North Korea, which could impact humanitarian efforts such as family reunifications. (The Chosunilbo).

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7 April 2014 – NEWS ABOUT THE COURTS

French delegates suggest intent to refer Syria to ICC:  France is currently seeking to propose a Security Council resolution that would refer Syria to the ICC for the prosecution of war crimes.  Russia stands as the largest opposing force to any such resolution.  The process is still in its infancy and many officials have refused to comment on specifics.  (NYT).

Arguments conclude in Croatia-Serbia ICJ Case:  The Croatia-Serbia ICJ case began in 1999.  Since that time, Serbia has filed a countersuit against Croatia and would like to see the ICJ declare the Croatian armed forces’ 1995 action genocide against the Serbian people.  The Croatian team still claims that the Serbian forces were excessive in their use of force.  The final verdict may be announced by the end of this or early next year and may not be appealed.  (B92).

UN concerned over continued violence in CAR:  The UN human rights office has finished its preliminary investigation of the deadly events that took place on March 29 in Bangui, CAR.  It has been determined that Chadian soldiers killed some 30 civilians and wounded more than 300 in an indiscriminate attack on a market.  (UN News).

UN Secretary General commemorates 20-year anniversary of Rwanda Genocide:  UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon reminds the international community that the atrocities that took place in Rwanda should not be forgotten and should not have occurred in the first place.  Monday’s commemoration is part of a series of events that aim to remember the people murdered in Rwanda and to unite the people of Rwanda.  (UN News).

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25 March 2014 – NEWS ABOUT THE COURTS

UN may seek special tribunal on North Korea as alternative to ICC: On Sunday, 23 March 2014, a diplomatic source revealed that the UN is considering creating a special court to try North Korean leaders who have committed human rights violations against North Korean citizens. This would serve as an alternative to referring the issue to the ICC, a decision that would likely be vetoed by China. The creation of a court would occur by majority vote in the UN General Assembly. (Yonhap News Agency).

Libya announces trial date for former Gaddafi officials: On Monday, 24 March 2014, Libya announced that on 14 April 2014, 37 high-level aides of Muammar Gaddafi will be tried in domestic proceedings. Among those to stand trial are Seif al-Islam Gaddafi and Saadi Gaddafi, the two sons of Muammar Gaddafi; Abdullah Senussi, the former intelligence chief and brother-in-law of Muammar Gaddafi; and dozens of former aides of Muammar Gaddafi. Al-Islam Gaddafi and al-Senussi are wanted by the ICC for crimes against humanity allegedly committed in Libya in February 2011. The Pre-Trial Chamber of the ICC previously rejected admissibility of al-Saddafi’s case, and based on complementarity, decided that he should instead be tried by Libyan authorities. Furthermore, the Pre-Trial Chamber rejected the challenge to the admissibility of Al-Islam Gaddafi’s case, deciding that his case would be heard before the ICC. However, both decisions were appealed, the outcomes of which are outstanding. Both al-Islam Gaddafi and al-Senussi have complained that their due process rights have been infringed, alleging that they have been denied access to counsel by the Libyan government. They have not been appointed counsel. On 6 March 2014, Saadi Gaddafi was extradited to Libya, and is now joined in the case to be heard before Libyan domestic courts. (Middle East Online).

US sends military planes to assist in hunt for LRA leader Kony: The U.S. will be sending military planes and additional special forces to Uganda this week in order to increase the search for LRA leader Joseph Kony. The U.S. is also offering a $5 million reward for Kony’s capture, and had previously sent forces to the area in 2011 to assist African troops in the search for Kony. The ICC has charged Kony with war crimes, and he is wanted for human rights abuses; namely, abducting children and forcing them to become child soldiers. (BBC).

Former Ivory Coast Youth Minister Goudé transferred to the ICC: On Monday, 24 March 2014, Charles Blé Goudé, the former Ivory Coast Youth Minister and former leader of the pro-Gbagbo militia group “Young Patriots”, was transferred from Ivory Coast to the ICC. He had been arrested and extradited to Ivory Coast on 17 January 2014. He is charged with committing four counts of crimes against humanity during the post-election violence in Ivory Coast between 16 December 2010 and 12 April 2011. (Hirondelle News Agency).

Narcisse Arido makes initital appearance for ICC contempt proceedings: On 20 March 2014, Narcisse Arido, who was wanted by the ICC for offenses against the administration of justice allegedly committed concerning the case The Prosecutor v. Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo, appeared for the first time before the Pre-Trial Chamber of the ICC. Arido is charged with corruptly influenced ICC witnesses, of which he was informed during the appearance. The Defense was also present at the appearance, and Arido was represented by his lawyer. The determination of whether these charges will be confirmed or rejected will not be made on the basis of a hearing, but solely on the basis of the parties’ written submissions. (CPI-ICC).

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24 March 2014 – NEWS ABOUT THE COURTS

Ivory Coast transfers ICC suspect to The Hague:  The former youth leader of the “Young Patriots” and right-hand man of Ivorian ex-president Laurent Gbagbo, Charles Ble Goude, has been transferred from Abidjan to the holding cells of the ICC. Ble Goude faces four counts of crimes against humanity which are alleged to have taken place during post-electoral violence in 2010-2011. (For additional information on this topic, please click here, here.) (Aljazeera, Reuters, Google News).

Mladic Defense requests that two genocide charges be dropped:  The Mladic Defence and Prosecution teams have completed their Rule 98bis submissions. The Defence asked that two genocide counts be dismissed, as well as a variety of additional liabilities. Both teams now await an oral judgment on the Defence motion for acquittal. (ICTY).

ECCC denies Khieu Samphan trial delay request:  The request for a trial delay by Samphan was denied by the Tribunal. Samphan had wished that the trial be delayed until a verdict was reached in the first trial but in the effort of preserving the rights of the defendant, the Tribunal has denied the request. (VOA).

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18 March 2014 – NEWS ABOUT THE COURTS

UN panel lists individuals alleged to be accountable for crimes: On Tuesday, 18 March 2014, the head of the UN panel tasked with investigating human rights abuses committed in Syria said that the panel has identified individuals who were involved in the taking of hostages, executions, and torture in Syria and placed them on a “perpetrators list”. This list includes the heads of intelligence branches and detention facilities in which torture was carried out; military commanders who targeted civilians; airport officials under whose jurisdiction bomb attacks were planned and completed, and leaders of groups who targeted civilians. The panel was established by the UN HRC in order to investigate human rights abuses in Syria since March 2011, and to date, the panel has conducted over 2,700 interviews.  (Fox News).

China opposes UN HR Council Resolution on crimes in N. Korea: China rejected South Korea’s request for China to support a UN Resolution to refer North Korean officials who have allegedly committed human rights abuses within North Korea to the ICC. The U.S., EU, and Japan are in favor of bringing the issue before the UN Security Council in order to bring about a referral to the ICC; however, China may exercise its veto power. Following the UN Commission of Inquiry’s recent conclusion that high-level officials in North Korea have committed crimes against humanity, the UN HRC is expected to decide on a resolution concerning North Korea’s human rights record. (Yonhap News Agency).

Malta approves extradition of Serbian CAH suspect to Croatia: On Thursday, 13 March 2014, a Maltese court ruled that Eror Gojko—a Serbian construction worker who is charged with committing crimes against humanity, kidnapping, torture, and unlawful deportation to concentration camps between 1991 and 1993 in the former Yugoslavia—will be extradited to Croatia for trial. He consented to the extradition, and the Maltese court did not address his charges. The charges against him are related to the disappearance of at least 17 people. (Reuters).

Civil Society petition questions ICTR acquittals: 15 civil society groups have signed a petition addressed to the president of the UN Security Council, questioning the ICTR Appeals Chamber’s decision to acquit and reduce the sentences of political and military officials who had been convicted by the Trial Chamber for crimes committed during the 1994 Rwandan genocide. The petition is specifically against Judge Theodore Meron, the presiding Judge of the ICTR Appeals Chamber. One of the organizations, Rwanda Civil Society Platform, expressed its disagreement with the acquittal of Justin Mugenzi, Prosper Mugiraneza, Protais Zigiranyirazo, Augustin Ndindiliyimana, and François-Xavier Nzuwonemeye, as well as the reduction of the sentences of Anatole Nsengiyumva and Aloys Ntabakuze. (allAfrica).

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17 March 2014 – NEWS ABOUT THE COURTS

Former Rwanda soldier sentenced in France:  Pascal Simbikangwa was sentenced this Friday to a 25-year jail sentence.  Sambikangwa is a former army captain who rose to become a high level official in Rwanda’s intelligence services.  In 2008, he was arrested and accused of complicity in war crimes and genocide in which took place in 1994.  France’s special genocide unit is hopeful that this verdict will lead to smooth future prosecutions.  (Aljazeera).

Amnesty reports ongoing violence, civilian displacement in Darfur:  As violence is Darfur intensifies almost half a million people have been forced from their homes of the last year.  Eyewitnesses in the midst of the conflict have described large attacks carried out by armed militias against civilians.  (Amnesty).

UN sends rights monitors to Ukraine; Security Council fails to pass Crimea Resolution:  The UN Security Council failed to adopt a draft resolution which urged countries not to recognize the results of this weekend’s referendum in Crimea.  In addition to this event, the UN has deployed a monitoring team to Ukraine to help establish facts surrounding alleged human rights violations.  For additional information on this topic, please click here)  (UN News).

Human Rights Council highlights ongoing plight of children in conflict:  Ongoing armed conflicts have made a number of countries, such as Syrian, making them very dangerous places to be a child.  SRSG Leila Zerrougui spoke in front of the HRC this past week highlighting that in Syria, South Sudan, CAR and in other countries children our being exploited and killed.  She also urged the HRC to take action in order to prevent the deprivation of lifesaving humanitarian assistance to children.  (UN News).

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11 March 2014 – NEWS ABOUT THE COURTS

Dissenting opinion in Katanga Judgment alleges violations to accused’s rights: Following the ICC’s 7 March 2014 conviction of former Congolese warlord Germain Katanga as an accessory on one count of crimes against humanity and four counts of war crimes, Judge Christine van den Wyngaert wrote a dissent, arguing that Katanga’s fair trial rights had been violated and that he should be acquitted. Katanga was initially charged as a principal perpetrator under Article 25(3)(a), but the Chamber re-characterized the mode of liability after both parties had rested their case to view him as an accessory under Article 25(3)(d), the timing of which is the basis for Judge van den Wyngaert’s dissent that the defense was given insufficient time to respond to and build a case against the re-characterized mode of liability. Specifically, she argued that the Chamber’s communication of the factual and legal basis for the re-characterization was insufficient for the defense to properly prepare for this change, and that the communication was not specific enough to effectively inform Katanga of the charges pending against him. She also doubted that the “facts and circumstances” of the changes were within the charges the Pre-Trial chamber had confirmed. The dissent also referred to bias on the part of the majority. (International Justice Monitor, Los Angeles Times) (For more information, please click here). 

UN investigation launched to probe HR abuses in CAR: On Monday, 10 March 2014, the UN launched an investigation of human rights abuses in the Central African Republic, focusing specifically on reports of genocide in the area. The panel conducting the investigation consists of Bernard Acho Muna, a Cameroonian lawyer and former deputy chief prosecutor for the ICTR; Jorge Castaneda, a former Mexican foreign minister; and Fatimata M’Baye, a Mauritanian human rights lawyer. Muna expressed concern that Christian and Muslim hate propaganda will increase violence, but is hopeful that the investigations will serve to lessen conflict. The Security Council ordered the investigation in December 2013, instructing the panel to collect information and identify perpetrators for prosecution. (ABC News).

Ruto responds to Prosecution application on compulsory testimony of eight witnesses: In response to ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda’s application for the Court to compel the appearance of eight witnesses in the trial of Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto, Ruto’s lawyers argued that the witnesses’ testimony is irrelevant. They maintained that hostile witnesses would be unable to contribute to the Prosecution’s case and questioned the credibility of the witnesses, referring to one witness’s emotional and behavioral difficulties and the incongruity between that witness’s account and the testimony of another witness. They also asserted that the Court cannot compel a witness to appear, but simply to speak once the witness has appeared voluntarily. Bensouda argues that the Court has the power to compel a witness to both appear and speak, and maintains that the witnesses have been bribed or influenced improperly. (Standard).

Serbia begins defense arguments before ICJ: On Monday, 10 March 2014, Serbia presented its rebuttal in the genocide case Croatia brought against Serbia before the ICJ. Serbia, which filed a counterclaim against Croatia for genocide committed by Croatians against Serbs, alleged that Serbs are victims of genocide and that they also suffered during the Balkan Wars. The Defense expressed regret for the crimes committed in Croatia, but emphasized that the violence was not one-sided. The arguments for the countersuit will be presented in the coming days. (in Serbia).

AU establishes commission to investigation HR abuses and crimes committed in South Sudan: Following the outbreak of violence in South Sudan in December 2013, the African Union established a commission last week to investigate human rights violations and crimes committed during this period. The inquiry body was created through the Peace and Security Council (PSC) decision, and its purpose is to investigate the conflict and make recommendations to ensure accountability and reconciliation. Former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo will head the five-member panel. The conflict has lasted about 10 weeks, and it is estimated that 10,000 people have been killed and nearly one million displaced. (AllAfrica).

Thousands of Tamils in Geneva protest Sri Lankan rejection of international investigation: In response to the Sri Lankan government’s refusal to initiate an international probe into alleged war crimes, 4,000 Tamils gathered in Geneva on Monday, 10 March 2014 to protest the rejection. The protest took place around the UN headquarters, and was made during an annual session of the Human Rights Council, which will be asked later this month to evaluate an international draft resolution calling for a probe into the crimes committed against Tamils during the Sri Lankan Civil War. (Agence France-Presse).

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7 March 2014 – BREAKING NEWS

ICC Declares Katanga Guilty as an Accessory to Crimes in DRC

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.

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