Georges Ruggiu

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Defence lawyers Mohamed Anouini and Jean-Louis Gilissen at the ICC (Photo: Flickr/ICC-CPI)
01 October 2016 by Janet H. Anderson, The Hague (The Netherlands)

In chapter seven of Thierry Cruvellier’s book ‘Court of Remorse’ about the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), he described the two defence lawyers, Belgian Jean-Louis Gilissen and Tunisian Mohamed Aouini as inseparable. “You never saw one without the other. They were always chatting. They had the same walk, the same honest handshake with their bodies learning forward slightly to convey sincerity, matching smiles and identical moustaches.”

Fast-forward fifteen years, and the same two were again tag teaming, this time at the ICC. They were representing their client Ahmad Al Faqi Al Mahdi during the shortest trial the court has ever seen in its own short history. From Mahdi’s arrest warrant in September 2015 when he was already in the custody of the authorities of Niger , to a judgement and sentencing, has been little more than a year. That’s because Al Mahdi pled guilty and his lawyers Gilissen and Aouini negotiated a deal with the prosecution that allowed judges to give him a sentence of nine years for the single war crime of cultural destruction, safe in the knowledge that the prosecution would not appeal.

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07 November 2005 by Thierry Cruvellier

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.