Archive for category Witnesses
Court/Tribunal: International Criminal Court
Decision Title: Decision on the “demande de mise en libertè provisoire de Maitre Aimé Kilolo Musamba [Request for provisional release of Aime Kilolo Musamba]”
Chamber: Pre-Trial Chamber II
Case Name: Prosecutor v. Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo, Aimé Kilolo Musamba, Jean-Jacques Mangenda Kabongo, Fidèle Babala Wandu and Narcisse Arido
Date: 14 March 2014
- The Single Judge presiding over the defendant’s request for provisional pre-trial release denied the request, citing the existence of continuing risks necessitating the defendant’s continued detention.
Principles found in decision:
- Pre-trial detention is an exceptional remedy that must be deemed both necessary and proportional; however, where a trial court makes these determinations, the presumption of innocence that attaches to a defendant will not prevent pre-trial detention
- In determining whether detention is still necessary, the court will look to whether the conditions that necessitated the defendant’s detention at the time of arrest continue to exist. The court will look at whether there are any “changed circumstances” at the time of an application for release that would militate against the defendant’s continued detention
- In determining whether detention is necessary, the court, under article 58(b)(1), will look to whether the defendant poses a flight risk, whether there is a risk of obstruction of the trial proceedings, or whether there is a risk of future crimes. The court makes this determination in the alternative, meaning that only one condition must be present for the necessity of detention to be established
- A consideration of the defendant’s personal or professional character or qualities does not factor into the court’s determination on the necessity of continued detention
- A consideration of any prejudice to the defendant’s professional or personal life created by continued detention does not factor into the court’s determination on the necessity of continued detention
Decision Background: This decision stems out of the charges against Musamba, alleging that he engaged in various forms of witnesses tampering in the main case against Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo. The court issued a warrant for the arrest of the above-named defendants on 20 November 2013. On 16 December 2013, defense counsel for Musamba submitted a request to the court to hold a hearing on the question of provisional pre-trial release for the defendant. Per a decision granting extended time, the court granted the Prosecutor, the Kingdom of Belgium and the Kingdom of Netherlands until 13 January 2014 to submit any observations on the defense request for provisional release. The Prosecutor objected to any provisional release of the defendant.
Decision Review: The issues of provisional release was decided by a Single Judge in the Chamber. Upon application by a defendant for provisional release, the Single Judge whether the personal “shall continue to be detained,” or “shall be released, with or without conditions,” (quotations omitted). Pre-trial detention is an exceptional measure, and must be proven to be both necessary and proportional. The presumption of innocence that attaches to the defendant, however, does not preclude pre-trial detention if deemed necessary by the court. Detention will apply when the statutory requirements for pre-trial detention continue to be met at the time of application for release.
In order to make such determination, the Single Judge makes a new inquiry into whether facts exist at the time of application sufficient to warrant the defendant’s continued detention. The Single Judge may rely on upon the same information that first justified retaining the defendant, and may undertake the inquiry based upon the factors that underlay the initial decision to retain the defendant. These factors are: whether there are reasonable grounds to believe that the person committed the crimes alleged by the Prosecutor, and whether the arrest and detention of the defendant appears necessary for one or more of the reasons articulated in article 58(1)(b) of the Statute.
On the first prong of the assessment, the Single Judge determined that numerous documents of evidence obtained by the Prosecutor – including reports and transcripts of conversations between the defendant and the witnesses with whom he is alleged to have tampered – established reasonable grounds to believe that the defendant had committed the charged offenses. The burden of proof at the pre-trial to establish a “reasonable belief” that the defendant committed the charged crimes is lower than the beyond-a-reasonable-doubt standard that adheres in finding a defendant guilty.
As to the second prong, the defense had argued that changed facts and circumstances made his continued pre-trial detention no longer necessary. Under the Statute, the court may find that changed circumstances (circumstances different from those found at the time of arrest to necessitate the defendant’s continued detention) requires the defendant’s pre-trial release. A “changed circumstance” sufficient to allow the defendant’s pre-trial release is either a change in some or all of the facts underlying a previous decision on detention, or a new fact satisfying a Chamber that a modification of its prior ruling is necessary. To determine whether there is a changed circumstances, the Single Judge will look at whether the factors laid on in article 58(1)(b) still exist at the time of the application for provisional release. Those factors are: appearance at trial/flight risk, defendant’s obstructing or endangering the investigation of the Court proceedings, and risks related to future crimes. These factors operate in the alternative, meaning that the fulfillment of one requirement is sufficient to warrant continued detention. Further, the question is the possibility of the occurrence of the risk, not that the risk posed by defendant’s release will actually occur. The possibility of future risk is proven by specific and concrete elements.
The defendant cited frozen assets, the surrender of his passport to Detention Center officials (the defendant is a Belgian national), and his willingness to check in with Belgian officials on a weekly basis throughout his release, as counting against finding him a flight risk such that continued detention would be necessary. Second, the defendant argued that the fact that he is no longer serving as counsel on the main Gombo case militates against finding him to be a continued risk to the administration of the main case.
The defendant had provisioned to the Court written statements from friends and family regarding his character; the Single Judge, however, determined that this information is not relevant to the decision, as personal or professional quality does not factor in to the determination of the necessity of continued pre-trial detention. Further, the Single Judge found that the fact that the defendant has not in the past been found guilty of any other crime does not affect the risks associated with the current conduct for which the defendant was arrested. Likewise, the Single Judge found that the potential for prejudice to the defendant’s personal or professional life, posed by his continued detention, is not a factor that is considered in making the detention determination.
The Single Judge found that despite the efforts taken by the defendant to prove his lack of flight risk, the extensive network he maintains with the associates of Gombo – and the resources available to them – still presented a substantial flight risk were they to release the defendant. Further, the Single Judge noted that releasing the defendant to Belgium, as requested, would pose a flight risk due to the relative ease of travel without need for travel or identifying documents between borders in the area. The Single Judge also found that the fact that the defendant is no longer serving as an attorney on the Gombo case, does not establish that the defendant does not maintain sufficient contacts with the network that could provide a manner of flight. Particularly concerning the Single Judge was the possibility of indirect or direct financial support coming from the network that could facilitate flight.
Additionally, the Single Judge noted the nature of the crime – attempts to tamper with witnesses in the main case, by a barred attorney on the case – as a significant factor in his findings. The Single Judge noted that these crimes pose a great risk to the main case, where the outcome of the case is still pending. The Single Judge noted the possibility of the impact of the defendant’s actions, which had yet to be determined, and the serious problems they pose to the fair and effective administration of justice. He also noted the defendant’s actions’ potential to undermine general public trust in the administration of justice as a major consideration.
Further, the Single Judge noted that evidence from the main case revealed several instances where the defendant directly tried to influence the proceedings through contact with witnesses. The Single Judge found that these instances were seriousness enough to warrant the defendant’s detention in order to prevent further witness tampering. The Single Judge found, based on the defendant’s prior conduct, that a risk remained that the defendant would continue to try to interfere with either the main case, or the proceedings in his own case. Therefore, the Single Judge found that, pursuant to the requirement in article 58(1)(b), a risk of interference by the defendant remains so long as trial proceedings continue.
Finally, and related to the Single Judge’s finding regarding the risk of obstruction, the Single Judge found that the defendant’s past conduct created a substantial risk for the commission of future crimes – namely, continued obstruction and interference with trial proceedings.
The Single Judge found that alternative release – supervised release under the conditions which the defendant offered to be bound – would not mitigate against these risks. The Single Judge found that the majority of the defendant’s alleged conduct occurred through communications with witnesses in the outside world, such that keeping the defendant in a controlled, detention environment is the only way to ensure that these risks are effectively managed.
Based on the foregoing, the Single Judge denied the defendant’s request for provisional pre-trial release.
To access the full Decision, click here
Ukraine requests ICC investigation, accepting ICC Jurisdiction: Ukraine has formally asked the ICC to investigate the deaths of civilians on its territory that occurred from 21 November 2013 to 22 February 2014. Ukraine hopes that the court will duly study the case but it is up to the prosecutor to decide whether to proceed with an investigation. (For more information on this topic, please click here) (ICC, NYT).
Ruto Witnesses compelled to testify: The ICC has summoned eight reluctant witnesses by way of subpoenas issued by the Kenyan government to testify in the Ruto trial. The prosecution continues to see witnesses withdraw from appearing and such actions have negatively affected several other ICC cases related to the Kenya poll violence. The court has made arrangements for the witnesses to appear by video-link and has asked the Kenyan government to make appropriate arrangements for security. (For additional information on this topic, please click here) (ICC, BBC).
Kosovo PM calls for vote on war crimes court; expresses concerns: Kosovo’s premier has summoned parliament to vote on whether to establish a special court to try ethnic Albanian guerrillas accused of harvesting organs of murdered Serbs during the Balkan war. U.S. and European officials have warned that if the court is not established then the case will be referred to the U.N. Security Council. (Reuters).
ICC abandons Banda Trial start date; cites “logistical” issues: Trial Chamber IV of the ICC decided to vacate the 5 May 2014 date for the Banda Trial due to logistical issues. The chamber will decide in due course on further steps to take no later than 6 May 2014. (ICC).
Security Council condemns S. Sudan attacks; suggests “war crimes” committed: The Security Council has voiced its outrage on the violence in South Sudan. The UN Mission in South Sudan has encountered armed mobs and sustained numerous injuries in trying to keep its IDPs safe. The Council has called on the Government of South Sudan to immediately take steps to ensure the safety of all civilians and UNMISS contingents. (UN).
Posted by carolinguentert in AU, CAR, Chad, Crimes against Humanity, Decision Review, Fair trial/Accused's rights, Gaddafi, Genocide, ICC, ICTR, ICTY, Investigations, Kenya, Libya, News about the Courts, Nigeria, Other domestic courts, Rwanda, Torture, Truth Commissions, Victims, War Crimes, Witnesses on April 15, 2014
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).
ICC brings al-Bashir complaint to UNSC: The ICC has informed the UN Security Council and the Assembly of States Parties about DRC’s noncooperation in the arrest and surrender of Omar Al Bashir. The Chamber has referred the matter to the UN Security Council and the Assembly of States Parties to the Rome Statute with hopes that a decision on what measures should be taken will surface in the near future. (ICC).
Saif al-Islam Gaddafi to stand trial in Tripoli Monday: Concerns remain over the guarantee of fair trials for Gaddafi-era officials in Libya. HRW has reported that the inmates in Libyan prisons are not receiving their basic due process rights. The ICC has the authority to command Libyan authorities to cooperate with the court but such pressure to turn Saif al-Islam Gaddafi over to the ICC has been ignored thus far. (For additional information on this topic, please click here.) (HRW/The Guardian).
ICTY anticipated 98bis decision in Mladic Case: 17 March 2014, the Defence team for Rato Mladic orally presented its motion pursuant to Rule 98bis. The Prosecution responded on 18 March 2014. The pronouncement of the Trial Chamber’s decision on the Rule 98bis motion for acquittal is scheduled for 15 April 2014. (ICTY).
Hadzic Witness unclear on past testimony: The final prosecution witness to testify against Goran Hadzic told judges last week that he could not confirm the accuracy of his earlier testimony. The witness told the Hadzic defence team that he could remember the meetings in Serbia which he had previously testified about, in which he and Hadzic allegedly received detailed instructions from the authorities in Belgrade, as well as equipment and arms. Hadzic’s defence case is scheduled to begin on June 24. (IWPR).
HRW advocates war crimes court in Kosovo: Kosovo’s parliament is expected approve the establishment of a special court located abroad to try alleged war crimes committed during and after the 1998-1999 Kosovo War. It is also expected that the Parliament will agree to extend the mandate of EULEX with hopes of brining individual accountability to past crimes. However, even if the special court is allowed to process, there are concerns that the weak state of Kosovo’s current justice system may inhibit its effectiveness. (HRW).
Posted by carolinguentert in African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights, CAR, Cooperation, Crimes against Humanity, ECCC, Egypt, European Court of Human Rights, Fair trial/Accused's rights, Genocide, ICC, immunity, Kenya, News about the Courts, North Korea, Other domestic courts, Victims, Witnesses on April 8, 2014
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).
Posted by carolinguentert in AU, Balkans, CAR, Commission of Inquiry, Crimes against Humanity, Fair trial/Accused's rights, Fatuo Bensouda, Genocide, Human Rights Violations, ICC, ICJ, ICTR, Investigations, Kenya, News about the Courts, Sri Lanka, UN Human Rights Council, Victims, War Crimes, Witnesses on March 11, 2014
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).
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).
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).
Kenyan High Court allows Barasa extradition to ICC: The Kenyan High Court has dismissed a petition submitted by journalist Walter Barasa arguing against his impending extradition. Barasa faces allegations of bribery in relation to the Ruto and President Kenyatta trial. It is alleged that Barasa engaged in trying to bribe witnesses to withdraw their testimony. (For additional information on this topic, please click here) (Chicago Tribune, Star).
Rwandan former intelligence chief to appear in Paris court: France has opened its doors to the prosecution of alleged human rights abusers who participated in the Rwandan genocide in French courts. There are currently 27 cases waiting to be tried. Many human rights advocates are celebrating this decision because they claim France has not participated to the extent other countries have in years past. (SeattlePI).
Kenyan Government invited to make submissions on assistance to ICC: The ICC has invited Kenyan officials to appear before the court and to share their insight into how Kenyan law may assist the ICC in ascertaining more witnesses for the ongoing Kenyatta case. It is likely that Attorney General Muigai will make the trip to the ICC in two weeks. (For additional information on this topic, please click here) (Capital News, ICC).
Serbian political leader arrested for war crimes; protests in Kosovo: The leading Kosovo Serb politician, Oliver Ivanovic, has been arrested by the European Union Rule of Law Mission (EULEX) on suspicion of war crimes against ethnic Albanians. EULEX has the authority to handle sensitive cases that the local judiciary is unable to devote resources to. Demonstrators in Kosovo have expressed frustration over the arrest and are asking for Ivanovic to be released. For additional information on this topic, please click here) (BBC, World Bulletin).
AU calls on ICC to halt prosecutions against sitting heads of state: The AU is calling for solidarity in protest of ICC proceedings against sitting African presidents. AU members assert that Kenya and South Sudan need their presidents in place to avoid instances of instability and possible violence. (PressTV).
ICTY Appeals Chamber affirms Đorđević judgment but reduces sentence: On Monday, 27 January 2014, the ICTY Appeals Chamber affirmed Vlastimir Đorđević’s guilt for crimes committed against Kosovo Albanians in 1999. However, the Appeals Chamber also reduced his prison sentence from 27 to 18 years, because it reversed Đorđević’s convictions for aiding and abetting war crimes and crimes against humanity, as well as certain findings of the Trial Chamber concerning Đorđević’s participation in a joint criminal enterprise (JCE). Đorđević was originally convicted in 2011 for having committed war crimes and crimes against humanity through his participation in a JCE. (ICTY).
Mladic refuses to testify in ICTY Karadzic case: On Tuesday, 28 January 2014, Ratko Mladic refused to testify at Radovan Karadzic’s case before the ICTY. He refused to take an oath, and referred to the Court as “satanic.” After answering Karadzic’s first question concerning the posts and dates of his military career, Mladic subsequently refused to answer questions, citing to his health and the possibility of self-incrimination. Karadzic is facing 11 charges, including allegedly committing genocide at Srebrenica during the Kosovo conflict. (BBC).
ICC Prosecution witness questioned on USAID actions in Kenya: On Monday, 27 January 2014, Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto’s defense counsel Karim Khan questioned witness 356 testifying before the ICC about whether the witness knew of American Ambassador to Kenya Michael Rannerberger “trying to get people to give evidence against Mr Ruto”. The question was part of the defense’s argument that NGOs funded by USAID had influenced witnesses to testify against Ruto by paying them, and that Ranneberger had traveled to the North Rift region in order to discourage people from supporting Ruto. The witness said that he was not aware of the ambassador’s travel and USAID’s funding. When asked, the witness also said that he had not been influenced to testify by the $20,000 he received from the ICC’s Victims and Witnesses Unit. Khan asked further questions in a private session. (For additional information about this topic, please click here) (Kenya Monitor, Standard Media).
Lebanese firefighter testifies at STL about Hariri bombing scene: On Monday, 27 January 2014, Khaled Tubaily, a Lebanese firefighter who was one of the first to arrive at the site in Beirut where former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri was killed by a bomb, testified before the STL. He said that “volcanoes of fire” were erupting from the site, and that the damage reached as far as 4 kilometers away, which will help the prosecution in asserting that the bombing occurred above ground, whereas defense lawyers have stated that the explosion was likely underground. Five Hezbollah members have been indicted for the 14 February 2005 attack. (The Daily Star).
HRW Report criticizes Kenya’s protection of human rights and culture of impunity: Kenya has rejected a recent report released by Human Rights Watch (HRW), which criticizes Kenya for failing to properly address impunity, citing to the country’s failure to address the 2007-2008 post-election violence. Specifically, the report points to the government’s lack of support for the trials of Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto before the ICC. The report also criticizes slow reforms in the Kenyan police force, which allegedly unlawfully tortured and killed 120 individuals between May and August 2013. Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Foreign Affairs labeled the report as “outrageous and incomprehensible” and asserted that Kenya is complying with international law and that the allegations of force used by the police were based on security actions taken years ago. (Sabahi).
Resolution passed by Sri Lanka council on international investigation into war crimes: On Monday, 27 January 2014, two months before UN Human Rights Commissioner Navi Pillay will deliver a report concerning the Sri Lankan government’s progress in addressing war crimes committed during the Sri Lankan Civil War before the UN Human Rights Council, passed a resolution for an international probe into these alleged war crimes. Specifically, the resolution calls for an inquiry into the “ethnic cleansing” that allegedly took place and rejects Sri Lanka’s national inquiry mechanism in favor of an international inquiry.
Former Peruvian Government cleared of CAH for forced sterilization: Former Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori was cleared of the allegation that he and his cabinet forcibly sterilized about 300,000 indigenous women as part of a national program in order to reduce birth rates in poor, rural areas of Peru during his term in office. The prosecutor, who interviewed women affected by the procedures, determined that Fujimori had not committed crimes against humanity and that the women had not been coerced into undergoing sterilization procedures. Multiple human rights groups had urged the government to prosecute the cases of about 2,000 women affected by the procedures, and in 2010, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights directed Peru to investigate the death of a woman who had undergone such a sterilization procedure. (Chicago Tribune).