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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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30 November 1999

UNMIK pleads for Haradinaj

In a decision unprecedented in the history of international justice, a trial chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) ruled on October 12, in a 2-1 vote, that the former Prime Minister of Kosovo, Ramush Haradinaj, "may appear in public and engage in public political activities to the extent which UN Mission in Kosovo [UNMIK] finds would be important for a positive development of the political and security situation in Kosovo." The Prosecutor is "appalled" by the decision and has filed a suspensive request. As a result, Haradinaj has not been allowed to speak in public for more than two days.

Questions pile up for swamped gacaca

​Officially begun on March 10, 2005, Rwanda's community-based gacaca courts are facing major difficulties and ambiguities. Expectations for the gacaca are divergent, to say the least, and the main challenges for these courts include: lack of resources, political interference, lack of qualified judges and the complexity of the cases being tried. Six months later, only 10% of the gacaca have begun trials and Rwandans are testing the impact of these courts.

The politics of breaking rocks

"Those who say we are in bondage are wrong. They forget the nature of the crimes we committed! They have been lenient with us," says Emmanuel Kamanda with conviction. Assigned to the second category of genocide perpetrators by his sector gacaca, he was sentenced to 12 years in prison. Kamanda has finished serving height and will perform community service to fulfill the remaining four. He is among the hundreds of people we met at a pilot site in the center of the country. They were crushing rocks to build roads.

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30 November 1999

Speeding up Saddam Hussein’s trial

Saddam Hussein is scheduled to stand trial starting October 19th, more than 20 months after Americans arrested the former Iraqi leader. The trial will begin with Dujail, a town 35 miles north of Baghdad, where 143 people were killed by forces loyal to Saddam in 1982 in a reaction to an assassination attempt against Saddam. The former president will stand trial alongside 7 other defendants including his half-brother and former head of the Mukhabart secret police, the former prime minister, former Vice chairman of the Baath Party and the former chief judges of the revolution court.

War crimes in Iraq: London in tune with the ICC

Most people hear the words "war crime" and think of the Nuremberg Trials or Slobodan Milosevic's trial, but that may soon change. Up till now, British soldiers have never been charged under this highly symbolic label. However, in July the British Attorney-General reversed this trend by announcing that three soldiers were being charged with "war crimes under the ICC Act [of] 2001". That announcement made Britain the first member of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to charge its own citizens under such law.

Shining Path – Act III

Abimael Guzmán, the famous leader of Peru's Maoist Shining Path group, began facing judges September 26 in his third trial. Guzmán and 23 of his followers who were allegedly members of the outlawed party's Central Committee are being tried by a special anti-terrorism court presided by Judge Pablo Talavera and two other magistrates. There are, however, only 12 defendants in the courtroom. The others are being tried in absentia.

Two Afghan generals stand trial 15 years on

In July, a British court sentenced a former Taliban to twenty five years in prison for torture and hostage-taking [see IJT no. 30]. Now a Dutch court has tried two former Afghan generals for war crimes and acts of torture committed under the communist regime between 1978 and 1992. This Hague-based trial, from September 18 - October 7, has made one thing clear: the almost insurmountable complexity of investigating and prosecuting crimes committed 15 to 25 years ago in a still-violent, chaotic and far away country like Afghanistan.

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30 November 1999

UN gives time to Burundi process

The dual mechanism to establish crimes and responsibilities in Burundi will take longer to put into place than first announced. IJT has learnt that on 30 September, Kofi Annan will not be submitting his report to the UN Security Council on the creation of the special chamber to try those responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity, and in parallel, a truth commission. [see IJT-23]. It is now widely accepted that more time is needed to consult the nation and its leadership in the light of the recent political upheavals in Burundi.

Serugendo, the long-awaited arrest

The arrest in Gabon of a former leader of the Interahamwe militia Joseph Serugendo coincided with the resumption of the trial of three leaders of the former Rwandan presidential party, the MRND, at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR). The defendants are principaly accused of having founded and commanded the MRND youth militia, the Interahamwe.

Cambodia trial in political deadlock

Five months after the entry into force of the accord between the United Nations and the Cambodian government, there has been little sign of progress in setting up the extraordinary chambers to try former Khmer Rouge leaders. Michelle Lee, who was appointed by the secretary-general to coordinate legal assistance on 25 August, is still not in post. Kofi Annan is not set to assign international judges until the end of October. A growing number of observers are openly pessimistic about holding the trials 25 years after the fall of the Pol Pot regime.

Milosevic and Seselj, the not quite perfect duo

For the last five weeks, at Slobodan Milosevic's invitation, the ultra nationalist Vojislav Seselj, former opposition leader and deputy prime minister of Serbia during the war in the former Yugoslavia, has testified in his defence. Since 23 August, Seselj, who is also accused by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), has presented as facts opinions previously expressed by Milosevic. When the judges asked for evidence, Seselj replied that it existed but that he did not have it.

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30 November 1999

Bosnia opens third generation of justice

It could be called the third generation of international justice: after the UN's international courts for former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and Rwanda, and the mixed model of Sierra Leone, the newest and most eagerly-awaited experience - outside the International Criminal Court in The Hague - has its headquarters in Sarajevo. The Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) War Crimes Chamber is a semi-international court housed on the premises of the BiH state court, the highest court in the country since the 1995 peace accords. Ten years after the end of the war, the chamber is about to open its first trial on 14 September.

The unmasking of the Colina squadron

Peru's judiciary opened the most important human rights trial in the country's history on August 17, when the Anti-Corruption Court began taking testimony in the trial of 57 defendants accused of taking part in a paramilitary death squad, the Colina Group.

President Vázquez’s pledge

After weeks of excavations, it came as something of a surprise that the body of María Claudia García, Uruguay's most emblematic victim of state terrorism, was still missing. The information seemed trustworthy enough, divulged in an official report presented by Gen. Guillermo Bertollotti, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, to the Uruguay president, Tabaré Vázquez.

“I don’t think Pinochet will stand trial in Chile”

Juan Guzman Tapia retired from the magistracy in May 2005. During his career, he prepared hundreds of cases against ex-dictator Augusto Pinochet filed by families of disappeared persons in Chile. On a visit to Paris to promote his autobiography "Aboard the World," he spoke to IJT.

 

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30 November 1999

Warm up at Beach trial in Brazzaville

After a discreet opening at 6 p.m. on 19 July, which the plaintiffs had not been invited to attend, the trial known as the “disappeared of the Beach” finally got underway before the Brazzaville criminal court on 21 July. 16 officers, including four generals, faced charges brought by 76 plain-tiffs in connection with the disappearance of 353 refugees in May 1999. The refugees were fleeing the war in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in a boat that docked at the Brazzaville port. They were never heard from again. The authorities have always denied any involvement, but this politically sensitive trial should shed new light on the affair.

Britain convicts Afghan warlord

Following Spain, Belgium and France, Britain is the fourth European country this year to try a non-national in a case of universal jurisdiction. In the first trial of its kind to be heard in England, an Afghan warlord, Farayadi Sarwar Zardad, 42, was convicted of torture committed in his home country before the Old Bailey criminal court in London. He was given a 20-year prison sentence on 19 July.

Cynical Frans

​On 10 July, a District Court in The Hague extended the custody of Dutch businessman Frans van Anraat for a second three-month period (see IJT-17). The 62-year-old is charged with complicity to commit genocide and war crimes for supplying Saddam Hussein's regime with substances that were allegedly used to produce chemical weapons.

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