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30 November 1999

What remains of the case against Milosevic

On 15 September, the trial of Slobodan Milosevic was adjourned for a month. After imposing lawyers on the accused and hea- ring only two defence witnesses, the Court was forced into an impasse when dozens of defence witnesses suddenly refused to give evidence in the space of a few days at The Hague.

Too narrow a mandate

Human Rights Watch (HRW), in its report published on 8 September, urges the Special Court for Sierra Leone not to limit its prosecution to the thirteen people it has indicted so far (of who only nine are in custody).

A comfortable budget, but a lack of passion

66.784,200 euros: this was the official budget allocated to the International Criminal Court for 2005 at the close of the Assembly of State Parties held at The Hague from 6 to 10 September. It was a success for those who feared funding cuts. But many participants bitterly lamented the lack of passion that marked the week's meeting.

 

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30 November 1999

Assisted defence for Slobodan Milosevic

​"Pa bavite se!" "Well, you deal with that!" Slobodan Milosevic shouted to the court, his arms outstretched as if throwing a sack of hot potatoes towards the feet of his judges. The International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) had not only just decided to end the three-year freedom of the Serbian ex-head of state to conduct his own defence. It also had the temerity to ask him how he wanted to proceed from now on.

ICTR plans to transfer trials to Rwanda

Relations between the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) and the Rwandan government were the topic of two announcements made by the ICTR prosecutor Hassan Jallow at the end of August.

Will the ICC have the means to match its ambitions?

At the same time as the International Criminal Court (ICC) launches its first investigations in Uganda and Congo, the annual Assembly of States parties will be meeting in The Hague from 6 to 10 September. The legal and political body faces the tough challenge of deciding on the 2005 budget. Since the court is beginning to schedule its first trials, this is a critical task.

Latin America: the end of immunity

The tide seems to have turned for former South American dictators. Argentina's Supreme Court has just accepted the imprescriptibility of a crime against humanity, while in Chile a trial looks likely for Augusto Pinochet after the former dictator was stripped of his immunity on 26 August.

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30 November 1999

Who believes in a Phnom Penh trial?

On 15 July the Cambodian national assembly re-elected Prime Minister Hun Sen and endorsed the new coalition government, thus putting an end to a year-long political crisis. This turn of events should help to unblock the vote on the bill to create a court to try the Khmer Rouge leadership for genocide. For the majority of Cambodian observers, the prospect of such a trial does not inspire enthusiasm. It is seen as a sea-snake that has plagued the troubled waters of Cambodian politics for the last seven years, or, in the words of one observer, "a Dracula whose creators want to get rid of it but who survives in spite of the blows struck against it."

Widow calls France to account for Boun-Hor death

Will light ever be shed on events leading to the disappearance in April 1975 of the former president of the Cambodian national assembly Ung Boun-Hor, who was forced to leave his refuge at the French Embassy in Khmer Rouge-occupied Phnom Penh?

Memories of Iraq in Kuwait and Iran

The start of trial proceedings against Saddam Hussein has sparked reactions in Kuwait and Iran, both direct victims of the toppled Baathist regime's aggression.

Kibuye, a "successful" legal saga

In the space of a week, just before the summer recess, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) has handed down one life sentence, confirmed a second and heard the parties debate two other appeal verdicts. The four cases all concern Rwandan personalities prosecuted for crimes committed in 1994 in the same region, eastern Kibuye.

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30 November 1999

ICC joins the Congolese chess game

​On 23 June, the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) Luis Moreno Ocampo announced he was opening his first investigations in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). According to his press release, Ocampo has already been "carefully analysing the situation in DRC" since July 2003. But the new step, which marks the difference between a "preliminary analysis" and the opening of an investigation, is notable for the legal process that could lead to the first trials before the international court, and is highly significant in the current political context.

Five Rwandan files kept on the back burner

On June 8, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) convicted France of failing to prepare its case against the Rwandan priest Wenceslas Munyeshyaka within a reasonable timeframe. The initial complaint, implicating him in the 1994 genocide, was filed nine years ago in July 1995. Although this is the first time such a case has been heard before the ECHR, the situation is not unique. Complaints filed between 1995 and 2001 against four Rwandans suspected of genocide who are residing in France are still pending in the French courts.

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30 November 1999

Thirty years for the Nyarubuye massacre

Sylvestre Gacumbitsi, the former mayor of Rusumo, Kibungo province (eastern Rwanda), has been sentenced to 30 years in prison for genocide and crimes against humanity (extermination and rape). "Gacumbitsi led the attacks on the Tutsi civilians gathered at the Nyarubuye church and personally took part in these attacks," concludes the judgement, which was delivered on 17 June by Senegalese judge Andrésia Vaz, presiding over trial chamber 3 at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR). 

The secrets of the Kamajors of Koribundo

​A ten-minute preliminary statement by key defendant Sam Hinga Norman, national coordinator of the Civil Defence Forces (CDF) from 1997 to 2002, kicked off the trial proper of the former CDF leaders in Freetown.

 

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30 November 1999
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30 November 1999

Burundi's proposal favors criminal justice

Six months after the new government took power in Burundi, little headway has been made in the negotiations with the UN on setting up institutions to render justice for crimes committed over the past four decades. However, a still confidential government document gives a preliminary indication of the Burundian authorities' choices. Bujumbura's proposed truth and reconciliation commission and special court appear to be surprisingly expansive and firm-handed.

Free but not freed

In February 2004, André Ntagerura, former government minister, and Emmanuel Bagambiki, former prefect, were acquitted by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR). Yet they remained in detention during the two-year appeals process. On February 8, 2006, their acquittals were upheld, but they are still under house arrest. No country wants to take in a genocide suspect, even one who has been cleared by an international court.

Interview with Said Tayeb Jawad, Afghan Ambassador to the United States:

Soft approach to sidelining criminals

On February 25, the Kabul National Security Court sentenced to death the first person to be tried and convicted for war crimes in Afghanistan. The organization Afghanistan Justice Project called the trial "fundamentally flawed." In an interview with IJT eight days before the verdict, the Afghan Ambassador to the United States discussed how justice in his country is being carried out in a sensitive political environment.

Brief news:
• Milosevic will not be judged
• Dubious justice in Darfur
• Debate over Taylor's fate
• A new twist in Saddam Hussein trial
• Babic's suicide: a blow to ICTY prosecution
• Denmark to try Rwandan suspect
• Afghanistan: first war crimes trial results in death penalty

 

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30 November 1999

Milosevic: the Kosovo exit

On 29 November, in an unusual show of unanimity, both the accused Slobodan Milosevic and prosecutor Geoffrey Nice opposed the severance of the Kosovo case from the Bosnia and the Croatia cases, as proposed by the Trial Chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in this long-winded, nearly 4-year trial. The idea of the judges is to let the former president of Yugoslavia finish his Kosovo defence and quickly wind up this case with a judgement.

Prosecutor steps up pressure on the akazu

​On November 21, Juvénal Uwilingiyimana left his home in Anderlecht, Belgium at dawn. Since then, the former Rwandan minister has gone missing. In a letter dated November 5 published on the Internet, he accuses the Office of the Prosecutor at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) of trying to force him to accuse high-ranking dignitaries of the former regime. On November 29, the prosecutor replied by charging Uwilingiyimana with genocide.

Earth to The Hague

Thousands of NGOs worldwide have been advocating for the International Criminal Court (ICC) for years. During the fourth Assembly of States Parties (ASP), which ended on December 3 in The Hague, dozens of them came to spur on the Court, in some cases not so gently.

II – Uganda: reasons for a bumpy start

While in New York on 6 October, William Swing, head of the UN mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), announced at a press conference that arrest warrants had been issued by the International Criminal Court (ICC) against five leaders of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), a rebel group in Northern Uganda. A week before, the American diplomat had already told the Security Council about the arrest warrants in closed session. His notes were leaked to a Reuters reporter, who was first to spread the news. After months of preparing the first round of arrest warrants, ICC Prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo had to watch silently while others spoke out and vented opinions about still sealed documents. In terms of a communication strategy, it was a remarkable fiasco.

 

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30 November 1999

The secret of the akazu

​Convincing some of Rwanda's key leaders in 1994 to admit to their role in the genocide was what the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) did best in the early years. It has rediscovered this talent in recent months. Michel Bagaragaza's still confidential confession is an impressive example. When questioned by investigators, this close relative of the Habyarimana family revealed that the Rwandan president's brother-inlaw is the one who, on the night of April 6, allegedly ordered the assassination of opposition leaders.

Bagosora settles scores with Dallaire

On November 17, the most notorious defendant at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), Colonel Théoneste Bagosora, concluded his 17-day testimony. The former directeur de cabinet at the Rwandan Ministry of Defense shifted responsibility for the April 7, 1994 assassination of the Prime Minister and ten Belgian peacekeepers to UN mission commander General Roméo Dallaire.

Lukic opposes “double transfer”

Milan Lukic was arrested in Buenos-Aires three months ago. This Bosnian Serb and ex-leader of a paramilitary group in Visegrad has been charged with crimes against humanity by the Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY). In addition to The Hague, he is also wanted in Belgrade and Sarajevo. Now the Argentine courts are wondering to what extent they can let the UN tribunal decide what suits it.

Fujimori’s failed comeback

Former Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori surprised supporters and detractors alike in early November, abandoning Japan after nearly five years of self-imposed exile in an effort to return to Peru and seek another presidential term. Instead of returning home to face the charges that have been pending against him in Lima since he resigned by fax from Tokyo on November 19, 2000, Fujimori opted to fly to Santiago, Chile, where he was taken directly to prison pursuant to an extradition request from Peru.

I - The United States in Darfur: trapped by “genocide”

"We concluded that genocide has been committed in Darfur, and that the government of Sudan and the Janjaweed militia bear responsibility," then U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell told members of Congress in September 2004. With one word - genocide - Powell catapulted the United States to the forefront of international efforts to end abuses in war-torn western Sudan. "Today we are calling on the United Nations to initiate a full investigation [...] into all violations of international humanitarian law that have occurred in Darfur, with a view to ensuring accountability," he added. Six months later, those statements would compel the U.S. government to allow the UN Security Council to refer the Darfur situation to the International Criminal Court (ICC).

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30 November 1999

Colonel Bagosora’s denial

Leading ICTR defendant Colonel Théoneste Bagosora began giving testimony on October 24 for the period leading up to the fateful date of April 6, 1994 - the day the Rwandan genocide began. The former directeur de cabinet in the Defense Ministry denied responsibility for disseminating a "definition of the Tutsi enemy" within the army in 1992. He especially denied being the colonel of the "apocalypse."

Arusha’s hard prison regime

On May 12, 2005, the President of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) discreetly handed down two decisions that illustrate an important difference between the UN tribunal in Arusha and The Hague-based tribunal that is responsible for trying cases of crimes committed in the former Yugoslavia. At the beginning of December 2004 the first motions for early release from persons convicted by the ICTR were brought before Judge Erik Mose. The two motions were filed by men who had pleaded guilty and cooperated with the prosecutor's office on an ongoing basis as informants or witnesses. Both motions were denied.

Habré living on borrowed time

Six weeks have elapsed since Belgian judge Daniel Fransen issued an arrest warrant for the former president of Chad, Hissène Habré, for “serious violations of international humanitarian law”. Habré is currently exiled in Senegal. This will be the second time that the Senegalese courts will have to rule on the fate of their guest, whose uninterrupted reign in Chad from 1982 – 1990 was marked by tens of thousands of political assassinations. In 2000, he escaped legal proceedings in Senegal. Five years later, his chances of avoiding extradition to Belgium appear to be slim.

Shining Path trial: special court in the cross-fire

The retrial of Peru's Maoist Shining Path rebel group entered its second full month with the defense and prosecution spending more time questioning the court than each other. Guzmán's attorney, Manuel Fajardo, spent the first month of the trial objecting to the court, its location on a military base and the generic charge of terrorism. He also continued his fight against the retrial itself, putting forth motions for dismissal based on "double jeopardy," since Guzmán already stood trial on terrorism after his arrest in September 1992 *see IJT-33+. The prosecutor did not stand idly by either.

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