Archive for category STL

19 November 2014 – NEWS ABOUT THE COURTS

Resolution passed at UN urging SC to refer N. Korea to ICC: On Tuesday, 18 November 2014, the U.N. General Assembly’s human rights committee approved a resolution urging the Security Council to hold North Korea and its leader Kim Jong-un accountable for crimes against humanity.  The non-binding resolution cites the U.N. commission of inquiry report issued earlier this year that found evidence of human rights abuses in North Korea committed under policies “established at the highest level of the state for decades.”  China and Russia, permanent members of the Security Council, were against the resolution which will now go to the General Assembly for vote in December.  (For additional information on this topic, please click here) (The Guardian).

STL hears testimony from Lebanese MP: Former Lebanese Minister Marwan Hamade testified at the Special Tribunal of Lebanon this week on the strained relationship between Syrian President Bashar Assad and former Lebanon Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.  Hamade described, among other things, how Assad allegedly humiliated Hariri in public outings and expected “complete obedience” from the former prime minister prior to the February 2005, assassination of Hariri.  The Special Tribunal is currently trying five men in absentia for the assassination. (The Daily Star).

Sri Lankan Commission of Inquiry to begin collecting evidence: Secretary to the Sri Lankan Presidential Commission H.W. Gunadasa said that the Commission will be accepting written statements concerning abuses committed during the country’s civil war that ended in 2009.  Gunadasa said the statements will be received until 31 December 2014, at which point the Commission will begin inquiries and investigations of alleged war crimes and human rights abuses.  The Commission is tasked with investigating and reporting on the events leading up to Sri Lanka’s civil war and whether any person or group should be held responsible.  (Global Post).

ECCC gives boycotting defense team ultimatum: On Monday, 17 November 2014, ECCC accused Khieu Samphan was told to end the boycott of his trial by defense counsel or else face expedited proceedings, such as the appointment of a new defense team or “any other action the court may deem appropriate.”  Samphan’s counsel were not present in the courtroom on Monday when the ECCC judges considered how to address the ongoing boycott.  Since 17 October 2014, proceedings in Case 002/02 have been adjourned as Samphan and co-accused Nuon Chea ordered their defense counsel to boycott until certain procedural complaints were resolved.  (The Cambodia Daily).

DRC military tribunal sentences army officer and rebel commander to death:  Congolese military lieutenant, Nzanzu Birotsho, and rebel leader of the Ugandan Islamist Allied Democratic Forces, Jamil Makulu, were sentenced to death on Monday, 17 November 2014, by the Democratic Republic of Congo military tribunal.  The senior army officer and the rebel commander were both convicted of terrorism and belonging to an insurrection movement and will likely face only prison time as the country observes a moratorium on carrying out death sentences.  (Reuters).

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17 July 2014 – NEWS ABOUT THE COURTS

Sri Lanka brings in foreign experts to investigate war crimes: Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa has decided to involve foreign experts in the country’s investigation of possible war crimes during its 26-year civil war. The Sri Lanka government said the purpose of the experts was to “double check what [the country] has found so far and to get some international backing.” The President’s decision follows intensified pressure from the international community for Sri Lanka to investigate and hold accountable those responsible for war crimes. (Reuters).

STL: German expert witness identifies fragments of “car that killed Hariri”: A prosecution witness at the Special Tribunal of Lebanon identified the parts of a vehicle involved in the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. The expert witness testified that the parts likely belonged to a Mitsubishi truck that was seen by cameras moments before the explosion that killed the Prime Minister. The defense, on the other hand, argued the explosion could have been the result of an underground bomb and have contested whether the vehicle from the camera was present during the time of the bombing. The Special Tribunal is currently trying five men in absentia for the assassination. (The Daily Star).

ICTY prosecution seeks rejection of Seselj’s damages claim: ICTY prosecutor Mathias Marcussen considers the detainment of Vojislav Seselj legal in light of the court order and indictment against the former Serbian leader for serious violations of international law. Seselj recently filed a 12 million euro damages claim against the ICTY for unlawful deprivation of liberty due to his nearly decade long detention. (InSerbia).

ICC names chamber that will hear Barasa case: Bulgaria’s Ekaterina Trendafilova, Italy’s Cuno Tarfusser and Belgium’s Christine Van den Wyngaert will preside over the ICC case against journalist Walter Barasa. Barasa is charged for witness interference related to the trial of Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto and radio journalist Joshua arap Sang. (All Africa).

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30 April 2014 – NEWS ABOUT THE COURTS

Lawmakers urge government to act quickly against STL summons of local editors: On Wednesday, 30 April 2014, Lebanese lawmakers urged the “government to act quickly and efficiently to protect” freedom of the press.  The call from the lawmakers came one week after the Special Tribunal for Lebanon summoned two news editors accused of disclosing the alleged names of witnesses on various media outlets.  Ibrahim Amine and Karma Khayyat face charges of contempt of court and disrupting justice.  (The Daily Star).

UK calls for swift probe into Syria chemical weapons use: British Foreign Secretary William Hague has called upon the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to conduct a timely investigation into chemical weapons attack by the Syrian government.  In the last two weeks, eight separate attacks using chlorine and ammonia have been carried out against civilians killing several and leaving hundreds seriously injured.  OPCW has reported that the Syrian government accepts the investigation and will provide security measures. (The Telegraph).

Prosecution seeks capital punishment for Jamaat-e-Islami leader: ICT of Bangladesh: In closing arguments at the International Crimes Tribunal-2 today, 30 April 2014, Prosecutor Tureen Afroz asked for the death penalty in the case against Jamaat-e-Islami leader Mir Quasem Ali.  Quasem is accused of torture and murder at an Al-Badr camp during the country’s 1971 Liberation War.  Prosecutor Tureen argued the evidence proved beyond a reasonable doubt that Quasem controlled the Al-Badr torture camp and was present during the commission of the alleged crimes.  (The Daily Star).

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27 February 2014 – NEWS ABOUT THE COURTS

ICC urges DRC to detain visiting Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir: The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has been urged to arrest and surrender ICC indictee Omar al-Bashir as he visits the country for meetings with other African leaders. The Sudanese President, charged by the ICC in 2009, for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity, arrived in the DRC on Tuesday, 25 February 2014. A number of countries on the continent have already failed to arrest Bashir under similar situations claiming the ICC unfairly targets Africans. (Press TV).

Hariri trial adjourned to add fifth suspect: Proceedings at the Special Tribunal in Lebanon relating to the February 2005, assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri were suspended in ordered to add a fifth accused. The five men, allegedly responsible for killing 23 and wounding some 200 in the attack, will be tried in absentia when proceedings resume sometime in May. The Special Tribunal was established in 2007 and is the only ad hoc tribunal with the power to try at-large accused. (Yahoo News).

Sri Lanka strongly rejects UN war crimes inquiry: Sri Lanka considers a U.N. mandated international investigation into alleged human rights abuses committed during the country’s 26-year civil war “an unwarranted interference in the internal affairs of a sovereign state.” Sri Lanka’s comments come in response to a report published this week by U.N. human rights chief Navi Pillay. The report, which calls for an international and independent investigation, precedes a U.N. Human Rights Council meeting in March 2014, that is expected to address the issue in Sri Lanka. (Time World).

Defence challenges ICC witness testimony; notes translation inconsistencies: The testimony of a prosecution witness in the case against Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto and radio journalist Joshua arap Sang has been challenged at the ICC. Specifically, the defence argued the witness wrongly translated phrases in the Kalenjin language. The witness claimed while testifying that Ruto addressed crowds in Kalenjin. (All Africa).

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18 February 2014 – NEWS ABOUT THE COURTS

ICC to decide on witnesses refusing to testify in Ruto case: The trial against Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto and journalist Joshua Sang before the ICC continued on Monday, 17 February 2014, but several witnesses have refused to testify, an issue the judges are expected to rule on this week. Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda has asked the Court to summon seven witnesses, whom she alleges have refused to testify due to bribery, whereas Attorney General Githu Muigai argued that the Court cannot compel testimony. So far, 10 witnesses have testified. (The Star).

Genocide survivors outraged by ICTR acquittals: A Rwandan genocide survivors’ association declared the ICTR Appeals Chamber’s 11 February 2014 acquittal of two former army officers of charges related to the 1994 Rwandan genocide to be an “outrageous” decision and a “denial of justice.” Major Francois-Xavier Nzuwonemeye was acquitted because his alleged role in the assassination of the Prime Minister and killing of 10 Belgian UN Blue Helmets had not been proven beyond a reasonable doubt, and General Augustin Ndindiliyimana was acquitted because the Court ruled that he had not had effective authority over subordinates who had been abused. In both cases, the Appeals Chamber found errors in the assessments of the Trial Chamber. The sentence of a third officer, Innocent Sagahutu, was reduced from 20 to 15 years because the Court found that he had not ordered the killing of two Belgian UNAMIR peacekeepers. The Court also said that it would deliver a decision concerning the sentence of former army chief Augustin Bizimungu at a later date. (For more information on this topic, please click here and here). (AFP, ICTR, AllAfrica).

ICTY Accused, Milan Lukić, transferred to Estonia to serve sentence: Milan Lukić, who was sentenced to life in prison by the ICTY in 2009 for having committed crimes against humanity and violation of laws and customs of warfare, a conviction that was confirmed by the Appeals Chamber in 2012, has been transferred to Estonia, where he will serve out his sentence. (in Serbia).

Parties prepare final submissions after confirmation hearing concludes in Ntaganda case: Following the conclusion of the confirmation of charges hearing in the case against Bosco Ntaganda before the Pre-Trial Chamber of the ICC, both sides are preparing final written submissions. The Prosecutor and the Legal representatives of the victims have to turn in their submissions by 7 March 2014, and the Defense may reply to these submissions until 4 April 2014. The judges will decide whether to confirm the charges, decline to confirm the charges, or request further evidence within 60 days of receipt of the Defense’s written submission. Ntaganda is suspected of committing war crimes and crimes against humanity in Ituri, DRC between September 2002 and September 2003, and the Pre-Trial Chamber II concluded the five-day hearing concerning these charges on 14 February, 2014. (ICC-CPI).

STL trial bring sense of justice as fifth accused is joined to case: On 14 February 2014, exactly nine years after the assassination of Rafic Hariri, mourners and friends of the former Lebanese Prime Minister were hopeful that the STL will bring those accused of the bombing to justice. Several days prior to the anniversary of Hariri’s death, on 11 February 2014, the STL had joined the case of a fifth alleged Hezbollah member to the trial of the four alleged members currently accused. (For more information, please click here) (The Daily Star).

UNHCR recommends international investigation into Sri Lanka war crimes: The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay has called on the UN Human Rights Council to conduct an independent international probe into the war crimes committed in Sri Lanka during the Liberation War. According to Pillay, the Sri Lankan government has consistently failed to address the human rights violations that occurred between 1972 and 2009. (The Daily Star).

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4 February 2014 – NEWS ABOUT THE COURTS

ICTY Prosecutor comments on reconsideration motion in Perišić case: On Monday, 3 February 2014, ICTY Prosecutor Serge Brammertz announced that his Office requested that the ICTY Appeals Chamber reconsider its acquittal of Momčilo Perišić, the former Chief of Staff of the Yugoslav Army, who had been convicted to 27 years in prison for aiding and abetting crimes committed in Sarajevo and Srebrenica between 1993 and 1995. In its motion for reconsideration, the Office of the Prosecutor argued that the “specific direction” requirements on which the Appeals Chamber based the acquittal is incorrect and should be overturned. (ICTY).

Witness from explosive unit testified at STL: On Monday, 3 February 2014, Abdel-Badih al-Soussi, who was the manager of the explosives unit of the Internal Security Forces at the time Prime Minister Rafik Hariri was assassinated, testified before the STL. Although he had not gone to the crime scene immediately following the explosion, he had attended a meeting at the military court that afternoon, to which a member of the explosives bureau had brought car parts from the site. The judge ordered that the parts be examined and the site cordoned off to the public. Soussi testified that he did not ask that the car parts be returned to the crime scene, nor did the judge discuss during the meeting whether parts of the motorcade should be removed. (The Daily Star).

Judge replaced on Kenyatta Trial Chamber: Following a decision by the Presidency of the ICC, Judge Geoffrey A. Henderson replaced Judge Chile Eboe-Osuji in the case against Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta before Trial Chamber V(b). Judge Henderson is from Trinidad and Tobago, and was elected at the Assembly of States Parties to the Rome Statute in November 2013. He will serve as a judge at the ICC until 10 March 2021. Judge Eboe-Osuji had excused himself from the trial. (ICC-CPI).

U.S. urged to suspend aid due to human rights violations in Egypt: On Monday, 3 February 2014, the Working Group on Egypt, as part of the NGO Human Rights First, released a statement that it had sent a letter to U.S. President Obama, urging his administration to cease sending aid to Egypt until the Egyptian government progresses in transitioning to a democracy and improves human rights conditions within the country. According to the NGO, depriving Egypt of aid until progress has been made sends a clear signal that the U.S. does not tolerate the human rights abuses that have occurred in Egypt, which are documented in a report the group recently released. (Human Rights First).

Former Bangladeshi Minister indicted for war crimes: On Sunday, 2 February 2014, the International Crimes Tribunal-2 indicted Syed Mohammad Qaisar, a former Bangladeshi minister from the Jatiya Party, on 16 charges of war crimes, including the commission of genocide. He and his group, the “Quaisar Bahini”, allegedly committed crimes against humanity in Habiganj and Brahmanbaria during the 1971 Liberation War. According to the prosecution, Quaisar had also served as a commander of the Rajakars, which was an auxiliary group of the former Pakistani army. The opening statement of the prosecution will be made on 4 March 2014. (Z News).

AU issues statement urging united front concerning ICC and Kenya, Sudan cases: In a statement issued Saturday, 1 February 2014, the AU expressed that it was not pleased with the UN Security Council’s refusal to defer the trials of Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto, and Sudanese President Omar Al Bashir. The AU encouraged all of its members to comply with AU decisions and stand together on this issue in order to defer the proceedings. Botswana is currently the only AU member state that has officially opposed the AU’s decision to challenge the ICC cases. (Sudan Tribune).

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29 January 2014 — DECISION REVIEW

Court/Tribunal: Special Tribunal for Lebanon 

Decision Title: Decision on motion filed by counsel for Mr. Badreddine and order to Lebanon to cooperate with the Special Tribunal

Chamber: The Trial Chamber

Case Name: Prosecutor v. Salim Jamil Ayyash, Mustafa Amine Badreddine, Hussein Hassan Oneissi, Assad Hassan Sabra

Date: 13 January 2013

_________

Executive Summary:

  •  After repeated, unsuccessful attempts by defense counsel and the Tribunal to secure voluntary assistance from the Lebanese government in obtaining requested information, the Trial Chamber issued an order compelling Lebanon to comply with defense’s request for assistance

Principles found in decision:

  • In addition to the requirements laid out in Rule 20(A) of the Statute, in order for an order of compulsion to be issued against Lebanon, the Chamber must be satisfied that the initial request for the State’s assistance identifies specific needed documents, that reasonable alternatives to compelling cooperation have been explored for obtaining the needed information, and that reasonable efforts have been made to convince the State to provide the requested assistance
  • In ordering a motion to compel against Lebanon, the Chamber will consider whether the State’s assistance is necessary to maintaining and ensuring “equality of arms” between the defense and the Prosecution. The maintenance of this parity is particularly important to trials in abstentia, where the defendant is not present to give instructions or assist in defense investigations
  • It is the Chamber’s duty to ensure that the Accused is provided, at minimum, with the right to adequate facilities to prepare his defense

Decision Background: On 24 October 2013, defense counsel for Mr. Badreddine filed an ex-parte motion with the Pre-Trial judge to issue an order of cooperation with the Tribunal to the Lebanese government. The motion follows on original request for assistance filed by defense counsel and directed to the Lebanese government seeking telecommunications data relevant to the death of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. Defense counsel argued that the material was essential to their ability to properly investigate and prepare their case, and that the information was in the possession of the Lebanese government.

On 15 November 2013, the Trial Judge directed the Tribunal Registrar to contact the Lebanese government and request compliance with the defense’s request for assistance by 6 December 2013. Any response from the Lebanese government indicating an inability to comply was due to the court by 27 November 2013. A reply from the First President of the Lebanese Court of Cassation on that date indicated that due to the separation between executive and judicial power in Lebanon, he did not have the authority to direct the Lebanese government to assist the defense. It was unclear from his response whether he forwarded the court’s directive to relevant parties within the Lebanese government.

On 7 January 2014, the defense filed observations with the Trial Chamber, reiterating their request for an order of compliance directed at the Lebanese government. The defense noted that the Prosecution did not have in its possession the information sought by the defense.

At the time of the decision, about seven months had passed since the original request was directed at the Lebanese government. The court nor the defense had received any substantive response to the request from the Lebanese government. 

Decision Review: Article 15(1) of the agreement between Lebanon and the United Nations establishing the Special Tribunal requires that the government of Lebanon cooperate with all organs of the Special Tribunal. The Lebanese Minister of Justice signed a Memorandum of understanding detailing Lebanon’s cooperation requirements on 28 July 2010.

Rule 20 of the Statue of the tribunal stipulates that where Lebanese authorities refuse to cooperate with a request for assistance, after the passage of 30 days the Parties to the Tribunal may seek from a Pre-Trial Judge or a Chamber, a motion compelling the requested assistance. A Judge or Chamber will only compel the requested assistance, however, in the instances where: the requests for information comply with the procedures outlined in Rules 16(B) and 16(C), the Head Office has determined that the requests are not frivolous or vexatious, the request relations to relevant documents required for the investigation, the documents are both relevant and required for the investigation, and the Lebanese authorities have not without undue delay satisfactorily complied with the requests.

In addition, the Trial Court should also be satisfied that the requests identifies as much as possible specific requested documents rather than broad categories of documents, reasonable alternative efforts short of an order compelling assistance have been explored for securing the information, a reasonable effort has been made to persuade Lebanon to voluntarily provide the requested assistance, and the request will not be unduly onerous on Lebanon.

In reaching its decision, the Trial Chamber also noted several other considerations it will take into account when deciding whether to issue an order to compel. Namely, the Trial Chamber must be satisfied that compelling State cooperation will maintain and ensure the equality of arms between the defense and the Prosecution. The Trial Chamber noted the importance of parity between the parties in situations like the Special Tribunal, where the defendants are tried in abstentia and thus the accused cannot assist with defense investigations or provide instructions. As such, the Chamber noted that it is incumbent upon itself to ensure that the Accused is provided, at minimum, with the right to adequate facilities to prepare his defense.

The Trial Chamber found that the defense request met the main criteria for an order of compulsion against Lebanon. The Chamber also noted the seven months that had elapsed from the initial request, and that over a month had passed since the 6 January 2014 deadline set by the Chamber, in finding that Lebanon was engaged in a protracted period of noncompliance amounting to undue delay.

The Trial Chamber thus found it appropriate to issue the order to compel the requested assistance from Lebanon. Noting that the Lebanese First President does not have the authority to compel the Lebanese government to act, the request for assistance should go to an authority within the government that has the authority to ensure compliance with compulsive orders to produce documents.

To access the full Decision, click here.

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