The "Bosnian model" takes its first steps
On February 1, the Bosnia-Herzegovina War Crimes Chamber began its third trial in two months. The same week in Sarajevo, the prosecutor concluded his presentation of evidence in one of the two trials started at the beginning of December, and a preliminary hearing was held in a fourth case involving 11 suspects charged with genocide. In two months, this new style "mixed" tribunal that is still testing out its hybrid nature, will be facing its first major trials.
Saddam's trial in firmer hands
The trial of former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein resumed in Baghdad on the January 29, after being disrupted by the surprise resignation of the presiding judge. The trial resumed with fiery debates, ending with the eight co-defendants boycotting the trial on the tenth day, February 2. They were protesting the appointment of the new presiding judge, Ra'uf Abd al Rahman, who is trying to firmly bring the trial back under control. The court heard testimony from the 23rd prosecution witness in the absence of the defendants. The next court session is due on February 13.
DC-CAM: the archives of the future trial
Just as judges are about to be appointed to the Extraordinary Chambers to try former Khmer Rouge leaders of Cambodia, the Documentation Center of Cambodia (DC-Cam) is preparing to hand over to the prosecutors information it has collected over the past ten years. DC-Cam was first established in 1995 at Yale University in the United States to collect documentation on the Khmer Rouge so as to explain history and establish responsibility for crimes committed. It has been operating in Phnom Penh since 1997 under the leadership of Youk Chhang, a former survivor. Chhang and his center will be playing a crucial role in the preparation of future trials.
Gacaca under pressure
The start of gacaca trials throughout Rwanda, slated for the beginning of 2006, will be delayed by the local and municipal elections scheduled for February and March, indicated the Rwandan authorities in early January. Inaugurated three years ago, and having opened the first trials nearly a year ago, only 10% of the 10,000 people’s courts have entered the trial phase. Since March 2005, 118 gacaca courts have handed down 4,000 decisions. And while 120,000 prosecution cases are waiting to come before the judges, it is estimated that 700,000 people, nearly a tenth of the population, are currently free but could have to face charges before a gacaca court. But under what circumstances?
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