Military joint defence

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.

None of the three judges was sitting when the trial opened three years ago, which is a striking illustration of the way this important trial has slipped into a legal quagmire. Most embarrassing, not least from a legal perspective, the four accused have spent between nine and eleven years behind bars before being effectively tried. As a direct consequence, the men have had time to weigh their options and decide to present a common defence, and to plan the ultimate offensive: staging the trial of their enemy, the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF).

Want to read more?

If you subscribe to a free membership, you can read this article and explore our full archive, dating back to 1997.

Subscribe now

Related articles

article
19 February 2007 by Laetitia Grotti

One year ago on January 6, 2006, the 17 members of Morocco's Equity and Reconciliation Commission (IER) were closing up shop after submitting their final report to King Mohammed VI. The Moroccan truth commission had received a flood of compliments from the international community praising the recommendations in its report, especially those advocating legislative and constitutional reforms. One year later, however, the results have been rather mixed.

article
11 September 2006 by our correspondent in Arusha

After having tried high-ranking officers, ministers, businessmen, priests, journalists, local officials and militiamen, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) is in uncharted waters. On September 11, the most famous rwandese troubadour of his generation will stand trial for genocide. 

article
23 October 2006 by Christine Chaumeau

China is keeping a polite distance from international criminal justice. Beijing is hardly disinterested, but China does want to make sure that these new global mechanisms are not going to infringe upon its sovereignty by delving into particularly sensitive cases such as Tibet. 

article
United Nations Operation in Burundi disarms rebel forces in Mbanda in February 2005 (Photo: Flickr/UN Photo/Martine Perret)
03 June 2015 by Janet H. Anderson, The Hague (The Netherlands)

Over the last month, Burundi has hit the headlines as the president put himself forward to be elected for a controversial third term, resulting in street protests, thousands of refugees who fled instability and an attempted coup. Behind the issues of elections and constitutionalism are also those of justice following Burundi’s long-running civil war. The international community supported an intensive process of negotiation and the signing of the Arusha Accord in 2000. But in the decade and a half since, its provisions on justice have been debated though never fully implemented.

article
06 November 2006 by Pierre Hazan

France's attitude towards international criminal justice is marked by ambiguity. Paris subscribes to a vision of the world in which international humanitarian law is considered a way to curb violence against civilian populations, but at the same time it is wary of an unchecked judicial system that could end up prosecuting French soldiers engaged in areas where it has old and deep-rooted interests.