Archive for category Ivory Coast
Posted by carolinguentert in Admissibility / Primacy, Crimes against Humanity, Fair trial/Accused's rights, Gaddafi, Human Rights Violations, ICC, Ivory Coast, News about the Courts, North Korea, Other domestic courts, Post-Election Violence, Uganda, UN General Assembly, Victims, War Crimes on March 25, 2014
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).
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).
Hariri trial commences in The Hague: On Thursday, 16 January 2014, the Special Tribunal for Lebanon began proceedings related to the February 2005, assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in Beirut. Mustafa Badreddine, Salim Ayyash, Hussein Oneissi and Assad Sabra, allegedly responsible for wounding some 200 people and killing 22 in the attack, were noticeably absent from the proceedings. The special court ruled in February 2012, that the at large suspects could be tried in absentia for, among other things, conspiracy to commit terrorism and murder. (CNN).
Pillay comments on Syrian killings: Navi Pillay, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, released a statement on Thursday, 16 January 2014, concerning reported executions and unlawful killings of civilians in violation of international law in Syria. Pillay considered the reports “alarming” and feared the human rights abuses “may amount to war crimes.” The U.N. Commissioner warned that “[e]veryone involved in serious crimes must be held accountable.” (Global Post).
Ruto excused from ICC trial: On Wednesday, 15 January 2014, the ICC ruled that Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto may be excused from portions of his trial. The ruling comes after the ICC Assembly of States Party agreed to amend the court’s rules to allow senior officials to be excused from attendance. Ruto will be required to “be present for the entirety of the closing statement of all parties . . . when victims present their views and concerns in person . . . and the entirety of the delivery of the judgment.” The Deputy President is charged with crimes against humanity relating to violence after the 2007 Kenyan presidential election. (Chicago Tribune News).
War crimes committee to audit South Sudan and Central African Republic: Members of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region met on Wednesday, 15 January 2014, to discuss the murders and sexual violence being committed in Southern Sudan and Central African Republic. The members agreed to organize a war crimes “audit” and increase support and resources to peacekeeping missions. To date, international organizations fear over 10,000 people have died and nearly 400,000 displaced since the fighting erupted in the two countries. (Bloomberg Businessweek).
Ivorian politician needs more time to respond to ICC transfer: On Monday, 13 January 2014, the Ivorian government moved the ICC for a three month extension to respond to its request over former Justice Minister Charles Blé Goudé’s transfer to The Hague. Blé Goudé argued his transfer would interfere with domestic proceedings in Côte d’Ivoire. The ICC issued an arrest warrant for the close alley of former President Laurent Gbagbo and accused him of war crimes relating to the post election civil war in 2010-2011. (All Africa).
ICC dismisses Prosecution appeal on decision to adjourn Gbagbo confirmation hearing: On 16 December 2013, the ICC Appeals Chamber dismissed an appeal lodged by the Prosecution against a decision by the Pre-Trial Chamber on 3 June 2013 which adjourned the confirmation hearing of former Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo and requested the Prosecution submit additional evidence on specific incidents relating to the charges against Gbagbo. The Appeals Chamber found that the Prosecution had failed to show that the Pre-Trial Chamber committed an error when treating 45 incidents relied on by the Prosecution as an Article 7 attack against a civilian population.
ICC rejects Prosecution appeal on amending temporal scope of Ruto, Sang charges: On 13 December 2013, the ICC Appeals Chamber dismissed the appeal of the Prosecution in the case against William Ruto and Joshua arap Sang which contested the Pre-Trial Chamber’s decision not allowing the Prosecution to amend the temporal scope of the charges against the two accused. The Appeals Chamber found that once the charges against an accused are confirmed it is no longer possible to amend or add charges. The Appeals Chamber confirmed that once the confirmation of charges is completed the only change that can be made to the charges is a recharacterisation of the facts while not exceeding the facts and circumstances of those described in the charges confirmed by the Pre-Trial Chamber.
Libya to allow US and UK authorities question ICC indicted Al-Senussi: Libya Justice Minister Salah Merghani has stated that Libya will allow authorities from the UK and US travel to Libya and question former Gaddafi Spy Chief Abdullah Al-Senussi over the 1988 bombing of a PanAm flight over Lockerbie Scotland. When asked if Al-Senussi, who is indicted for crimes against humanity before the ICC, would be questioned, Merghani is quoted as saying “Yes this is the intention … What we are working on is finalizing the arrangements for this as much as obtaining the evidence that’s available with the UK and US authorities … We all need to know the facts.”
ICTY Seselj case continues after Judge Harhoff’s disqualification: On 13 December 2013, the Trial Chamber of the ICTY decided that the trial against Vojislav Seselj would continue following the election of Judge Mandiaye Niang to the bench. Judge Niang was elected to the Trial Chamber after Judge Harhoff was disqualified on Seselj’s request. The Trial Chamber noted that Judge Niang is capable of assessing the credibility of witnesses while becoming familiar with the case.
ECCC Prosecution issues list of potential witnesses: On 17 December 2013 it was reported that Prosecutors on the ECCC case against Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan issued a confidential listed of 96 witnesses who will give evidence about Khamer Rouge detention facilities and work sites. Witnesses are reported to include “Cambodian citizens, journalists, civil servants, military personnel, local authorities and monks” as well as seven experts and Kaing Kek leve (“Duch”) who was convicted by the ECCC and sentenced to life for crimes committed in Tuol Sleng prison.
UN Commission to be established for CAR crimes: On 16 December 2013, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon stated that the United Nations will establish a commission which will investigate crimes committed in the Central African Republic; which Ban Ki-moon as said “descended into chaos” this year after the Government was overthrown in March. Ban Ki-moon is quoted as saying he is “gravely concerned about the imminent danger of mass atrocities.” Bi Ki-moon said that the presence of humanitarian efforts, including African and French troops, and human rights monitors has improved the situation, but that “we must do more to meet this test of global solidarity.”
Ireland in discussions with ICC on witness relocation program: On 16 December 2013, Fatou Bensouda stated that the Government of Ireland is in negotiations with the ICC in order to establish a program which would relocate witnesses to Ireland after their testimony before the ICC. Speaking from Dublin, the Prosecutor stated that “Protection of witnesses is one of the court’s main priorities and in this regard the conclusion of witness relocation agreements with the court is a practical way through which [states] can help the court meet this challenge.”
Court/Tribunal: International Criminal Court
Decision Title: Fourth Decision on the Review of Laurent Gbagbo’s Detention Pursuant to Article 60(3) of the Rome Statute
Chamber: Pre-Trial Chamber I
Case Name: Prosecutor v. Laurent Gbagbo
Date: 11 November 2013
- Citing concerns over the defendant’s ongoing health issues, the Chamber postponed a final decision on granting Mr. Gbagbo conditional release until it has received a report detailing the defendant’s health requirements.
Principles found in decision:
- A Chamber may order provisional or conditional release of a defendant if changed circumstances so warrant. A sufficient changed circumstance is a change in the facts relied upon in issuing the original detention order, or the introduction of new facts that the Court feels warrants a modification of its preexisting detention order.
- In reviewing a detention order, the Court will only analyze claims showing changed circumstances, and will not revisit arguments made in previous submissions pertaining to the defendant’s detention.
- The Court found that specific facts regarding the release of political prisoners in the Cote d’Ivoire did not per se change the grounds upon which the defendant was detained, but rather was a fact supporting the general conclusion that the security situation in the Cote d’Ivoire has improved
- The improved security situation in the Cote d’Ivoire is a changed circumstance that impacts the grounds upon which the defendant has been detained
Decision Background: On 23 November 2011, the Court issued an arrest warrant against Laurent Gbagbo. Mr. Gbagbo was surrendered to the custody of the Court on 30 November 2011. In May 2012, the defense submitted a request for the defendant’s provisional release, which the Court rejected on 13 July 2012. The Court rejected a second request for conditional release based upon concerns for the defendant on 18 January 2013. The hearing on the confirmation of the charges was held from between 19 and 28 February 2013. The defense made a third request for defendant’s provisional release, which was denied by the Court in July 2013. On appeal in October 2013, the Appeals Chamber affirmed that denial.
On 31 October 2013, the defense submitted additional observations regarding facts relevant to a potential conditional release for the defendant, and again requested that the Court revisit the issue.
Decision Review: The defendant’s main contention in its fourth request for his conditional release argues that new circumstances and facts have occurred that impact the basis on which his previous requests were denied. Specifically, the defense contends that the government of the Cote d’Ivoire has been advancing a reconciliatory policy vis-à-vis Gbagbo’s former opposition group, the FPI, that the government has engaged in talks with that group, and that as part of this reconciliatory policy, several senior FPI leaders have been released from the government’s custody.
The defense also noted that the situation in the Cote d’Ivoire has improved such that 10,000 refugees stationed in Liberia have since returned to the country. The defense noted that the Ivorian government has seen provisional release as a possibility, and thus no longer sees the defendant as a danger. The defense maintained that in this period of transition to peaceful dialogue between the FPI and the government, the Court must support the peace process currently afoot in the country, and must not take steps that would undermine that progress. The defense maintained that the Court must make account of the changed circumstances in the country when reassessing the defendant for provisional release. The defense also objected to the Prosecution’s contention that the fact that the defendant still has political supports in the country requires his continued detention. The defense argued that the Prosecutor has not presented any new evidence showing any risks inherent in allowing the release, and argued that the evidence used by the Prosecutor in her arguments was old, outdated, and did not reflect current circumstances. Finally, the defense renewed its concerns over the effects of continued detention on Mr. Gbagbo’s health.
The prosecutor in response argued that no new factual situations have arisen since the July 2013 that change the basis upon which release was denied. The prosecutor maintained that pursuant to the findings in those decisions, Mr. Gbagbo should remain in custody. The OPVC filed a motion in agreement with the Prosecutor, maintaining that no factual circumstances have changed that would justify Mr. Gbagbo’s provisional release.
Under Article 60(3), the Chamber must review an order of release or detention every 120 days. Under that provision, the Court may modify or repeal the order of detention or release, if changed circumstances so warrant. A “changed circumstance” means a change in some or all of the facts relied upon in issuing the original decision on detention or release, or the introduction of a new fact that the Chamber believes warrants a modification of its preexisting order. In reviewing submissions requesting that the Court repeal or amend its prior order, the Court will only look to arguments alleging changed circumstances, and will not reanalyze and reiterate arguments made in previous submissions and previous decisions.
Pursuant to these strictures, the Chamber limited itself to the review of claims relating to the alleged changed security situation in the Cote d’Ivoire. The Court noted that all parties were in agreement that the security situation has in fact improved. The Court rejected the defendant’s argument, however, that the fact that a number of FPI leaders have been release, per se impact the grounds upon which the defendant’s continued detention rests. The Court determined that this fact rather supports the more general conclusion of an improved security situation in the country. The Court determined that an improved security situation is a “changed circumstance” upon which a reevaluation of the detention order is warranted.
The Court determined that the improved security situation in the country, along with an absence of evidence that the defendant has attempted to continue to conduct criminal behavior from his place of detention, suggest that his continued detention for security reasons is no longer necessary. However, the Court determined that these changed circumstances do not address the Court’s alternative reason for holding Mr. Gbagbo, namely the danger of his tampering with or obstructing the investigation or court proceedings. Thus the Court determined that continued detention would be necessary. The Court noted, however, its continuing obligation under Article 58(1)(b) of the Statute to explore the possibility of conditional release for the defendant, if sufficient conditions can be imposed upon the release to militate against the risks posed by release.
Noting ongoing concerns with Mr. Gbagbo’s health, the Court decided to postpone a decision upon the possibility of conditional release for the defendant. The Court determined that it needs information regarding the defendant’s health-related needs and treatment requirements, before it can look into factors – such as a potential, adequate location of release – regarding granting provisional release. The Court therefore ordered the Registry and the Defense to submit, by 2 December 2013, a report on progress made towards determining the defendant’s health-related requirements. The Chamber stated that once the process of obtaining the necessary information on the defendant’s health has been completed, it will review the possibility of conditional release.
To access the full Decision, click here.
Security Council split on ICC deferral: The U.N. Security Council is split over whether to delay the ICC cases against Kenya’s sitting heads of state. Last week, the 15 state parties met to discuss an AU backed resolution calling for a deferral to allow President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto time to fulfill their executive duties at home. Experts opposed to the resolution argue a postponement may defer justice for victims. The U.N. Security Council is expected to vote this week on whether to approve the deferral. (All Africa).
Ivory Coast party seeks release of former President: The Ivorian Popular Front has officially requested the ICC release former President Laurent Gbagbo from custody. The opposition political party claims Gbagbo is being illegally detained after the ICC failed to present sufficient evidence of wrongdoing. The party’s organizer demanded the former President return to the Ivory Coast to “reconcile the people.” For the past two years, Gbagbo has been held in The Hague on charges of crimes against humanity for his participation in the 2010 post-election violence. (All Africa).
Kenya attacks planned after 2007 election, says ICC witness: A prosecution witness testified last week that members of the Orange Democratic Movement, a political party supported by ICC indictee William Ruto, planned attacks against the rival Party of National Unity. The protected witness told judges members of the Orange Democratic Movement stocked bows, arrows and rocks “with the objective of forcibly expelling” people of a differing ethnic group from their communities once the 2007 presidential election results were announced. Ruto, alongside co-accused Joshua arap Sang, is charged with inciting and ordering attacks that killed and displaced thousands of civilians after the party he supported was defeated in the election. (All Africa).
ICC judges call witness for Bemba trial: A judge ordered witness is expected to testify in the trial of Jean Pierre Bemba at the ICC on 18 November 2013. The evidence to be presented by the witness has not been disclosed, however, the individual has been “repeatedly mentioned” by other participants during the proceedings. The witness will first be examined by the judges. The prosecution, victim representatives and defense will then each have an opportunity to question the witness on relevant issues, as well as evidence that concerns credibility and mitigating or aggravating circumstances. The former Vice President of the DRC is charged with crimes against humanity and war crimes. (All Africa).
UN address ICC issues, including Kenya deferral and Sudan’s outstanding warrants: On Thursday, 31 October 2013, ICC President Sang-Hyung Song updated the UNGA on the workings of the Court, including the Kenya, Libya, Sudan and Ivory Coast cases. He asked all ICC stakeholders to uphold the integrity of the Rome Statute, and particularly highlighted the support needed from the UN to address the outstanding warrants in Sudan against the four individuals charged with committing genocide in Darfur. In a separate meeting, the UNSC representatives from Kenya and the AU were addressing the ICC concerning the possibility of deferring the ICC cases against President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto for one year. Under Article 16 of the Rome Statute, a prosecution can be deferred for up to 12 months by a resolution of the UNSC under Chapter VII of the UN Charter. (To read more about this topic, please click here.) (The Star, UPI).
Serbia to receive positive report from ICTY: Rasim Ljajic, the president of the National Council for the ICTY Cooperation, will mention Serbia’s cooperation with the ICTY in a report he will deliver to the UN in December, specifically referring to Serbia promptly delivering documents and allowing access to witnesses and archives. Ljajic met with ICTY prosecutor Serge Brammertz on Monday, 4 November 2013, and he met with Serbian prime minister Ivica Dacic and the chief Serbian prosecutor Vladimir Vucicevic on Tuesday, 5 November 2013. Ljajic and Brammertz discussed placing individuals sentenced by the ICTY into Serbian prisons, a possibility the Tribunal had previously declined. (World Bulletin).
Witness testifies that Karadzic was a weak leader: Former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic’s trial resumed this week, with Karadzic’s former aide Jovan Zametica testifying that Karadzic had not had effective control over his army. Zametica joined the Republika Srpska (RS) in 1993 and became an advisor to Karazdic in 1994. He testified that Karadzic had been a weak leader of the RS; his army had apparently been disobedient, he had allowed local chieftains to make important decisions, and he had simply been a representative leader to the international community. He also asserted that Karadzic had been tolerant of non-Serbs, as shown by the fact that Zametica is a Muslim. Karadzic is charged with genocide before the ICTY. (Institute for War & Peace Reporting).
ICTR will help Rwanda with transferred genocide cases: The ICTR has promised to help the Rwandan National Prosecution Authority with the genocide cases the ICTR has transferred to Rwanda. ICTR prosecutor general Hassan Bubacar Jallow explained that although the work of the ICTR is winding down, it will continue to support the Rwandan prosecution to ensure that the cases are handled successfully and that the genocide suspects, many of whom have fled to France, are caught and prosecuted. Jallow, ICTR President Judge Vagn Joensen, and several senior officials from the ICTR are currently in Rwanda and will meet with the supreme court judges and Minister of Justice Johnston Busingye to review ICTR procedures. (Rwanda Focus).
MICT is tracking “big fish” wanted for Darfur genocide: Jallow announced on Monday, 4 November 2013 that three of the most wanted suspects for the genocide in Darfur will likely be caught soon, because the Mechanism of the International Criminal Tribunals (MICT) was able to obtain information that could lead to their arrest. The three fugitives are Felicien Kabuga, who allegedly financed the genocide, Protais Mpiranya, the former Presidential Guards commandant, and Augustin Bizimana, the former defense minister. Referred to as “big fish”, their cases would be handled by the MICT, as opposed to being transferred to Rwanda. (The New Times).
STL fines defense in Hariri case: Earlier this week, the STL fined defense lawyers for making “frivolous” appeals in order to delay the start date of the trial concerning the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafic Hariri. The defense appealed the appointment of Judge Janet Nosworthy, who replaced the former president of the trial chamber upon his resignation in September, which was deemed a “frivolous” delay tactic by the Court. The defense also asserted that it needs more time to prepare for trial due to the high volume of evidence in the case, and that Lebanon was not cooperating in assisting the defense’s investigations. The Court did not reveal how much the defense was fined. (The Daily Star).
British MPs call executions in Iran crimes against humanity: British MPs have declared that the execution of 16 political prisoners on 4 October 2013 in Zahedan, Iran is a crime against humanity, and are calling on the UN to investigate these events. The British Parliamentary Committee for Iran Freedom stated that Mohammad Marzieh, the prosecutor general of Zahedan, had confirmed that the prisoners had been executed because they had killed revolutionary guards in Saravan. The committee also noted, however, that Hedayatollah Mir-Moradzehi, Saravan’s representative in the Iranian Parliament, stated that it was still unclear who had killed the revolutionary guards. The committee recommended that the UN Security Council and the UN Human Rights Council review the events. (Foreign Affairs Committee of the National Council of Resistance of Iran).
ICC rejects Gbagbo’s appeal against pretrial detention: On Tuesday, 29 October 2013 the ICC announced that former Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo must remain in custody until he is tried, rejecting his appeal against his continuous pretrial detention in The Hague. Gbagbo has been in custody for almost two years, and his indictment has not been confirmed; it is still unclear whether he will stand trial. Gbagbo is charged with committing crimes against civilians following the 2010 Ivory Coast elections. (The Associated Press).
U.S. plans to aid Uganda in its search for Kony: The U.S. is reportedly increasing efforts to catch Joseph Kony by possibly stationing Osprey aircraft in Uganda. Such aircraft fly like planes but are capable of landing like helicopters, which would significantly aid African and U.S. troops in searching for Kony. This would also double the number if U.S. troops stationed in Uganda, which is leading the search for Kony. Kony, the commander-in-chief of the rebel group the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), and three other LRA leaders have been indicted by the ICC for crimes against humanity and war crimes. The LRA fought the Ugandan government for 20 years, and is allegedly responsible for killing and kidnapping civilians from villages, many of whom were children. (Voice of America).
Chowdhury appeals death sentence handed down by ICT: On Tuesday, 29 October 2013, Salauddin Quader Chowdhury’s defense lawyer filed an appeal with the Supreme Court against the death penalty awarded by with the International Crimes Tribunal (ICT), which had sentenced Chowdhury to death by hanging on 1 October 2013 for the torture, murder, and genocide he committed during the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War. Chowdhury was a Standing Committee member of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party. (Dhaka Tribune).
STL holds pre-trial conference in Hariri case: On Tuesday, 29 October 2013, the Trial Chamber of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) is holding a pre-trial conference concerning the case against four Lebanese individuals indicted for assassinating former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri and killing 21 others in a 2005 terrorist attack in Beirut. The conference is meant to help shift the case from the pre-trial to the trial stage, and will be open to the public. This is the first time the Trial Chamber has held such a meeting. The case was transferred from the Pre-Trial Chamber to the Trial Chamber, and the trial is set to begin on 13 January 2014. (Kuwait News Agency).
ICC reverses ruling excusing Ruto from attending his trial: The appeals chamber of the ICC ruled on Friday, 25 October 2013 that Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto can only be excused from attending his trial under “exceptional circumstances”, reversing the earlier ruling which had excused Ruto from attending much of his trial. The appeals chamber noted that Ruto may only be excused from attending when judges have considered all other alternatives and it is “strictly necessary”, since Ruto is “not merely a passive observer of the trial but an active participant”. Decisions on whether Ruto will be excused from certain parts of his trial will therefore be made on a case-by-case basis. (Sabahi).
AU decision to defer Kenyatta, Ruto, and Bashir trials draws mixed responses: In support of the AU urging the ICC to defer the trials of Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, and Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto, Ethiopian representatives said that heads of state should not be prosecuted while they are still in office and that Ruto and Kenyatta’s cases should be referred to Kenyan domestic courts, whereas approximately 142 African human rights and activist groups urged AU leaders to support the ICC on Monday, 14 October 2013. Former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and Archbishop Desmond Tutu have also voiced their support for the ICC. Kenyan Senator Kipchumba Murkomen, who had initiated Kenya’s withdrawal from the ICC, called on Kenya’s majority leader this week to introduce a measure to ratify the AU’s deferment decision. According to AU protocol sources, 14 heads of state from Uganda, Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya, Sudan, Djibouti, Tanzania, Rwanda, Namibia, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Gambia, Côte d’Ivoire, and Nigeria were present at the summit. (Daily Trust, Voice of America, Business Day). For more information on this topic, please click here and here.
France speaks out against deaths of UN-AU forces in Darfur: On Monday, 14 October 2013, French authorities called on the Sudanese government to investigate an attack that killed three Senegalese soldiers serving in the UN-African Union peace force (UNAMIS) on 13 October 2013, and the murder of a Zambian UN-AU soldier in Western Sudan on 11 October 2013. The French government also urged the Sudanese government to bring those responsible for the deaths to justice, commented on the deteriorating state of security in Sudan, and asked the parties fighting in Darfur to adopt the agreement made in Doha several years ago. (Kuwait News Agency).
STL announces indictment against fifth Hezbollah suspect in Hariri assassination: On 10 October 2013, the STL lifted the confidentiality order on its indictment against Hezbollah member Hassan Habib Merhi, who has been indicted as the fifth suspect in the 2005 assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. The STL stated that an arrest warrant and indictment for Merhi were delivered to the Lebanese government in August and that Merhi’s trial will be conducted separately from the trial of the four suspects previously indicted. None of the five witnesses, who are charged with involvement in the 2005 Beirut attack, have been arrested. (The Daily Star).
Taylor fears he could be killed in UK jail: In a letter to the Special Court for Sierra Leone, former Liberian President Charles Taylor justified his request to serve his 50-year sentence in a Rwandan jail by expressing concern that he could be seriously injured or killed by fellow inmates in a UK jail. He fears that inmates of West African and specifically Sierra Leonean descent would seek retribution against him in jail, referencing General Radislav Krstić, who was convicted by the ICTY and attacked by three inmates in a UK jail in 2010. He also cited the lower cost of Rwandan jails and the cost of travel a UK jail would impose upon his family. The request was denied; the court can only send prisoners to states with which it has an enforcement agreement. (The New Dawn).
Rwandan genocide suspect claims he does not understand Rwandan language: Since former MRND Secretary General Bernard Munyagishari’s transfer to Rwanda by the ICTR in July, he has been attempting to have his trial conducted in French rather than the Rwandan language Kinyarwanda, which he claims he does not understand. Relying on a 1982 judgment by the Appeals Court of Ruhengeri, in which Munyagishari was accused of rape and defended himself in Kinyarwanda, the ICTR denied his request. Léon Mugesera, a former Rwandan politician who had also been transferred to the ICTR, was denied the same request last year, because the court had wanted to analyze his 1992 speech concerning the genocide in its original language of Kinyarwanda. Munyagishari is accused of committing genocide in Gisenyi, and an appeal concerning his right to an interpreter is currently pending. (Hirondelle News Agency).
WikiLeaks founder sparks potential suit between Ecuador and Britain: It has been reported that Ecuadorian Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino is contemplating whether to bring action against Britain in the ICJ. Patino alleges the British government has continuously erred in denying WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange travel to Ecuador after his successful asylum application last year. Patino claims Britain is purposely delaying resolution of the case and this setback is negatively effecting Assange’s health. The WikiLeaks founder has been confined this past year to one room in Ecuador’s London embassy. (RT).
Kenyatta seeks trial via video link at ICC: On 9 October 2013, Kenyan Foreign Minister Amina Mohamed requested the ICC conduct proceedings in the case against President Uhuru Kenyatta by video link. Amina stressed the need for the sitting head of state to be present in Kenya, especially during the country’s present instability. To date, the ICC has twice denied Kenyatta’s motions to be absence from the Hague. The trial for charges of crimes against humanity following Kenya’s violent 2007 election is expected to begin next month. (BBC News Africa).
Protestors swarm ICC at Gbagbo hearing: Ivorian supporters of former President Laurent Gbagbo protested in The Hague on Wednesday, 9 October 2013. Chants repeating “Gbago is the President of Ivory Coast. We shall camp here till he is released” and “Feedom Gbagbo” were heard outside the ICC during the former President’s hearings. Gbagbo faces charges of crimes against humanity for his alleged role in the 2010 Ivory Coast presidential election. (Standard Digital).
Bangladesh ex-minister gets life sentence: Former Minister of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party Abdul Alim has been sentenced to life in prison by the ICT this week. Tribunal Justice Obaidul Hassan noted the sentence would have been death absent Alim’s “poor health condition and disability.” Alim was found guilty of genocide and crimes against humanity for offenses committed during the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War. (The Hindu).