International Justice Monitor

A project of the Open Society Justice Initiative

Judges Reject Additional Protective Measures for Witness

International Criminal Court (ICC) judges have declined to reconsider the in-court protective measures granted to a prosecution witness in the Bosco Ntaganda trial, finding it “inappropriate” to increase the level of measures from partial to full protection.

Judges Robert Fremr (presiding), Kuniko Ozaki, and Chang-ho Chung ruled that prosecution submissions regarding the personal circumstances of the witness did not warrant “exceptional” reconsideration of his use of a pseudonym to further include face and voice distortion during public broadcast of his testimony.

According to the judges, all security information relevant to the witness was in the chamber’s possession when it rendered its initial decision on partial protective measures. They ruled that the prosecution’s submissions for reconsideration failed to demonstrate “any clear error of … Continue Reading

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Hissène Habré Trial before the Extraordinary African Chambers: December Hearings

This guest post, part of an IJ Monitor series of summaries on the Hissène Habré trial, was produced by a group of Senegalese law school graduates, with the assistance of  TrustAfrica. The views expressed below do not necessarily reflect the views of the Open Society Justice Initiative.

The trial of former Chadian president Hissène Habré before the Extraordinary African Chambers (EAC) in Dakar, Senegal continued in December. The trial opened on July 20, 2015, but was suspended until September 7 to allow court-appointed defense lawyers time to familiarize themselves with the case after Habré instructed his original lawyers not to appear in court.

Habré is being prosecuted for war crimes, crimes against humanity, and torture allegedly committed in Chad from June 7, 1982 … Continue Reading

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Ntaganda’s Lawyers Granted More Time to Question “Important” Prosecution Witness

Trial judges at the International Criminal Court (ICC) have granted Bosco Ntaganda’s lawyers more time than earlier allocated to question a witness whose testimony the prosecution deems very important to its case.

In granting the defense request for more time, Presiding Judge Robert Fremr acknowledged the technical difficulties experienced by the court during defense cross-examination. The judge also stated that several objections raised by the prosecution during the defense’s questioning of the witness about the locations where the Patriotic Forces for the Liberation of Congo (FPLC) conducted operations, had slowed the pace of cross-examination.

The witness, who is testifying under the pseudonym Witness P017, is a former insider in the FPLC in which Ntaganda was a commander. Over the course of his … Continue Reading

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In Opening Statement, Blé Goudé Says He Called for Peace

Former Ivorian cabinet minister Charles Blé Goudé told the International Criminal Court (ICC) he was a consistent advocate for peace in the years before the presidential elections of 2010 and after those elections.

Blé Goudé, who was also the leader of the Alliance of Young Patriots, denied on Tuesday that he was the undisputed leader of an umbrella organization of youth groups that supported former Ivorian president Laurent Gbagbo.

According to the prosecution Blé Goudé led an umbrella organization of pro-Gbagbo youth groups called the Patriotic Galaxy. The prosecution alleges the Patriotic Galaxy was made up of disparate groups that agreed on the need to keep Gbagbo in power by any means.

Blé Goudé denied that such an organization as the Patriotic Galaxy … Continue Reading

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Bemba Verdict to be Delivered on March 21

On March 31, former Congolese vice president Jean-Pierre Bemba will know whether judges at the International Criminal Court (ICC) convict or acquit him of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

According to a scheduling order by the court, Trial Chamber III, comprised of Judge Sylvia Steiner (Presiding), Judge Joyce Aluoch, and Judge Kuniko Ozaki will deliver its judgment at 14:00, in open court.

Bemba has been in the court’s detention since July 2008. His trial over the murder, pillaging, and rape allegedly committed by his troops during 2002 and 2003 opened in November 2010. Whereas Bemba did not directly commit these crimes, prosecutors say he is culpable because, as commander-in-chief of the Movement for the Liberation of Congo (MLC), he knew that … Continue Reading

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Opening of Landmark Sexual Violence Case in Guatemala

On Monday, February 1, the landmark Sepur Zarco trial opened in Guatemala City before High-Risk Court A.  It is first time that a case of sexual violence related to Guatemala’s 36-year internal armed conflict is being prosecuted in a Guatemalan court. It is also the first time that a domestic court in any country is hearing charges of sexual and domestic slavery charged as international crimes.

The trial began promptly at 8:30 a.m. in the public courtroom of the Supreme Court of Justice. Among those in attendance were many international diplomats, including U.S. Ambassador Todd Robinson. Robinson tweeted about the trial, stating, “I congratulate Guatemalan society and the Guatemalan justice system for confronting these issues. It is important that the justice and … Continue Reading

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Sepur Zarco Sexual Violence Case Begins in Guatemala

A groundbreaking case related to Guatemala’s 36-year civil conflict opened today before High-Risk Court A. It marks the first time that a domestic court has heard charges of sexual slavery as an international crime. We have added background information on the case, and information on the two accused, their defense teams, and the civil parties in the case. Professor Jo-Marie Burt, a senior fellow at the Washington Office on Latin America, will be providing IJ Monitor with occasional updates on the proceedings.

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L’ancien membre raconte l’exécution de femmes et d’enfants par les combattants de M. Ntaganda

Aujourd’hui, un ancien membre d’une milice congolaise a raconté que ses collègues avaient exécuté près de 20 femmes et enfants peu de temps après que les soldats aient tué un nombre non connu d’hommes.

Témoignant devant la Cour pénale internationale (CPI), l’ancien membre des Forces patriotiques pour la libération du Congo (FPLC) a déclaré que les troupes du groupe avaient commis des meurtres en 2013 dans la ville de Kobu située dans le nord-est de la République démocratique du Congo.

L’ancien rebelle témoigne au procès de l’ancien commandant dirigeant le groupe, Bosco Ntaganda, sous le pseudonyme de témoin P017. Le rôle du témoin joué au sein des FPLC n’a pas été divulgué en séance publique mais il a une connaissance du fonctionnement interne du … Continue Reading

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Defense Says Case Against Gbagbo is a “Catastrophe”

Lawyers for former Ivory Coast president Laurent Gbagbo have said the prosecution of the International Criminal Court (ICC) developed a case theory, fitted the facts to suit it but failed to prove Gbagbo’s role in Ivory Coast’s post-election violence.

Professor Dov Jacobs told the ICC on Monday that the incidents the prosecution alleges Gbagbo had a role in did not happen as the prosecution states or those incidents were staged. Jacobs also said the prosecution had failed to prove the authenticity of government documents they relied on as evidence against Gbagbo.

He was making a presentation on Monday as part of the opening statement of the defense of Gbagbo. The former president, whose trial began last Thursday, has been charged with four counts … Continue Reading

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Insider Recounts Execution of Women and Children by Ntaganda’s Fighters

Today, a former member of a Congolese militia group recounted how his colleagues executed about 20 women and children shortly after the fighters had killed an unnamed number of men.

Testifying before the International Criminal Court (ICC), the former member of the Patriotic Forces for the Liberation of Congo (FPLC) said troops from the group committed the murders during 2013 in the town of Kobu in the northeast of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The former rebel is testifying in the trial of the group’s former top commander Bosco Ntaganda, under the pseudonym Witness P017. The role the witness played in the FPLC has not been disclosed in open court, but he has knowledge of the group’s inner workings and was privy to … Continue Reading

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