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09 May 2005 by Thierry Cruvellier

On 9 May, four years after the trial of the "Butare four", Belgium reopened the Rwandan genocide file with the trial of two businessmen from Kibungo, Étienne Nzabonimana and Samuel Ndashikirwa. Other proceedings are expected to follow, including the long-awaited trial of Major Bernard Ntuyahaga, suspected of involvement in the death of ten Belgian peacekeepers in Kigali on 7 April 1994. But the most secret and spectacular of all is the pending trial of a certain Ephrem Nkezabera, former banker and a member of the national committee of the Interahamwe militia.

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25 April 2005 by ARNAUD GRELLIER

On 19 April, the Spanish Supreme Court sentenced former Argentine naval captain Adolfo Scilingo to 640 years' imprisonment for crimes against humanity committed during the 1976-1983 military dictatorship. This landmark conviction of a foreign national for crimes committed outside Spain's borders endorses the Spanish government's new stance in favour of universal jurisdiction.

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25 April 2005 by Mary Kimani

Within two weeks of Gacaca restarting its operations in March, three of the community courts have summoned three high Rwandan dignitaries - Prime Minister Bernard Makuza, Minister of Defense General Marcel Gatsinzi, and the prefect of Ruhengeri province in northern Rwanda, Boniface Rucagu - to answer charges relating to the 1994 genocide. Gatsinzi and Rucagu are directly accused of taking part in the genocide. The appearance of these important Hutu officials, who became members of the governing Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), has sparked debate. Some see it as the determination of ordinary Rwandans to prise answers from everyone, even from prominent Hutus who have been successfully integrated into the government. Others see it as a ploy to tarnish the reputation of the few remaining Hutu leaders.

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25 April 2005 by Thierry Cruvellier

When the defence case in the military trial opened on 11 April before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), there was an inevitable feeling of vertigo. "The first word that springs to mind is: Finally! Eleven years after the crimes, nine years after his arrest, eight years and three months after his arrival in Arusha, Colonel Bagosora can finally begin to explain himself. Raphaël Constant, the lawyer for the most famous Rwandan genocide suspect, is one of only two people in the courtroom to have followed the lengthy proceedings against Théoneste Bagosora and his three co-accused from the start.

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11 April 2005 by HEIKELINA VERRIJN STUART

The Security Council's referral of the situation in Darfur to the International Criminal Court (ICC) has been hailed as a giant step in the history of international humanitarian law. It has also been criticised for applying double standards by exempting the United States from the ICC's jurisdiction.

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29 March 2005 by Emmanuel Chicon and Benjamin Bibas

The Moroccan Equity and Reconciliation Commission (IER) will soon complete its report that should theoretically be submitted to the King by mid-April (see IJT n° 15 and 19). The signs are that this transitional justice process is still controlled by the Palace (or Makhzen), which runs the kingdom. But the young guard may find the recent rise in Islamism a useful argument for strengthening its position.

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29 March 2005 by Mary Kimani

The first trials before Rwanda's gacaca courts finally opened on 10 March. Almost three years after their official launch, the courts, made up of locally elected judges from a district or hill, read out their first verdicts for people suspected of participating in the genocide. The most notable fact was the summoning of several hundred local administrative leaders before the courts. 

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29 March 2005 by our correspondent

"Rapes were committed by soldiers under the accused's command, and he did nothing to punish them," asserted the Chief Prosecutor for the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), Hassan Bubacar Jallow, on the opening day of the trial of Tharcisse Muvunyi on 28 February 2005. Yet only a month earlier, Jallow had asked the judges for authorisation to strike the rape allegations from the indictment.

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29 March 2005 by KELVIN LEWIS

The third and last scheduled trial at the Special Court for Sierra Leone finally got underway on 7 March. The three men in the dock are former members of the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC): Alex Tamba Brima, Brima Bazzy Kamara and Santigie Borbor Kanu. They faced the three foreign judges after spending nearly two years in detention. On stage for perhaps the last time was court prosecutor David Crane, two weeks after announcing he will be stepping down in July after three years at the head of the prosecution.

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27 March 2005 by HEIKELINA VERRIJN STUART

The International Criminal Court’s (ICC) first status conference was held in camera on 15 March. It was convened to provide an update on the prosecutor’s investigations in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). No information has filtered through on talks between the judges and Prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo on this subject. But there have been strong echoes of a legal culture clash and the boundaries of responsibility between the pre-trial chamber and the prosecution.

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