International Justice Monitor

A project of the Open Society Justice Initiative

Appeals Judges Decline to Release Bemba From ICC Detention

Appeals judges at the International Criminal Court (ICC) have rejected Congolese opposition leader Jean-Pierre Bemba’s appeal for interim release.

In a unanimous decision, a summary of which was issued in court this morning, the appeals chamber agreed with trial judges that Mr. Bemba should remain in detention pending the verdict of his trial for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Mr. Bemba has been in detention in The Hague since 2008, following his arrest in Belgium, where he maintains a residence, and transfer to the court.

Last December, trial judges declined to release him on bail, saying this was to ensure his appearance at trial. They argued that the end of the presentation of evidence phase of the proceedings and commencement of deliberations was … Continue Reading

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Former Constitutional Court Judge Alejandro Maldonado Aguirre Appointed Vice President

Guatemala’s Congress appointed Alejandro Maldonado Aguirre vice president on May 14 following the May 8 resignation of Roxana Baldetti amid a growing tax fraud scandal that named Baldetti’s private secretary as ringleader.

Maldonado was one of three candidates put forth by President Otto Pérez Molina. An earlier list included Labor Minister Carlos Contreras, constitutionally barred from participating, and legislator Oliverio Garcia Rodas, removed from the list following a failure of the congress to reach an agreement.

Maldonado is no stranger to the executive. Since the 1960s, he was a member of the far-right political party National Liberation Movement (Movimiento de Liberacion Nacional – MLN), alleged to have started the use of death squads against communists. He was also minister of education under … Continue Reading

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ICC Prosecutor Investigates Additional Charges Against LRA Commander Ongwen

Prosecutors at the International Criminal Court (ICC) are conducting investigations with a view to bring additional charges against Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) senior commander Dominic Ongwen, whose confirmation of charges hearing is scheduled for January 2016.

At a status conference today, staff of the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) said although their ongoing investigations could result in new charges beyond those contained in the warrant of arrest against Mr. Ongwen, they were at this stage unable to state the details of the charges.

However, they suggested that the charges could be related to sexual slavery and other sexual crimes, enlistment of child soldiers, and an attack on a camp for internally displaced persons (IDP).

Prosecution staff said if ongoing investigations establish sufficient evidence … Continue Reading

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Kenyan President and Attorney General Make Contradictory Statements on ICC

President Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta has asked Parliament to act on resolutions it first made more than four years ago to cut ties with the International Criminal Court (ICC), signalling a hardening of his government’s position against the court.

Kenyatta made his request in March this year. However, just a month later Attorney General Githu Muigai sought to assure a symposium on international crimes that Kenya remained committed to the ICC.

The President’s request is in a report on how the government is implementing Kenya’s international obligations. He submitted the report to Parliament on March 26 together with the State of the Nation speech he delivered that day. The National Assembly has debated the speech, but there has not been a debate on … Continue Reading

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Bemba and His Former Lawyers Fear Continued Surveillance

Jean-Pierre Bemba and his former lawyers with whom he faces an impending trial at the International Criminal Court (ICC) are wary that their communications are still under surveillance at the behest of the prosecution.

However, the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) has denied that the communications of Mr. Bemba, his former lead defense counsel Aime Kilolo Musamba, and case manager Jean-Jacques Mangenda Kabongo, are still being monitored. The prosecution also said there was no ongoing monitoring of the communications of former defense witness Narcisse Arido and Congolese parliamentarian Fidèle Babala Wandu.

The five individuals are due to go on trial later this year for corruptly influencing witnesses who testified in the trial of Mr. Bemba, a former vice president of Congo whose … Continue Reading

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Guatemalan Vice President Resigns Amidst Widening Scandal

Guatemala’s Vice President Roxana Baldetti resigned on Friday, May 8, amidst a burgeoning customs tax scandal. Baldetti’s decision followed weeks of popular protests, in which Guatemalans have demanded her resignation and that of the president himself. Demonstrators took to the streets following the April 16 arrests of individuals accused of participation in a massive scheme to defraud the government of customs tax.

In announcing Baldetti’s resignation, President Pérez Molina said her decision reflected a desire to cooperate with the ongoing investigation. Investigations from the public prosecutor’s office and the International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) have so far resulted in 27 arrests related to a criminal ring allegedly made up of at least 50 officials and private citizens. Juan Carlos Monzon, … Continue Reading

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When Data Doesn’t Tell the Whole Story

This blog is a part of International Justice Monitor’s technology for truth series, which focuses on the use of technology for evidence and features views from key proponents in the field.

As highlighted by other posts in this series, emerging technology is increasing the amount and type of information available, in some contexts, to criminal and other investigations. Much of what is produced by these emerging technologies (Facebook posts, tweets, YouTube videos, text messages) falls in the category we refer to as “found” data. By “found” data we mean data not generated for a specific investigation, but instead, that is generated for some unrelated purpose.

Such data are not new or specific to emerging technology: examples include bureaucratic and administrative records, such … Continue Reading

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Ntaganda Lawyers Seek to Appeal Trial Opening Date

Lawyers for Congolese war crimes indictee Bosco Ntaganda are seeking to appeal the July 2015 opening date for his trial at the International Criminal Court (ICC). Two weeks ago, trial chamber judges rejected a suggestion by his lawyers for the trial to be delayed until November.

According to defense lawyer Stéphane Bourgon, the judges’ decision to postpone the holding of opening statements until the second or third week of July and commencement of hearing evidence to the third week of August “rests on mixed errors of law and fact warranting the intervention of the Appeals Chamber at this stage.”

In an April 24, 2015 application for leave to appeal the decision, Mr. Bourgon faults judges for failing to provide a “reasoned opinion” setting … Continue Reading

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Impeachment Request Filed against Judge Carol Patricia Flores

In a development that could have profound effect on pending national trials of grave crimes in Guatemala, on April 30  the International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) and the public prosecutor filed a request with the judiciary to impeach Judge Carol Patricia Flores and remove her immunity so that she can be investigated for money laundering, illicit gain, and related offenses. According to the request, a preliminary investigation indicated that Judge Flores possesses a house worth $350,000 that she has never declared, despite an obligation to do so, the value of which exceeds her purchasing power based on her monthly income.

Judge Flores is the investigative pre-trial judge of High-Risk Court A.  In recent years, she has played a prominent … Continue Reading

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Ngudjolo’s Asylum Proceedings: The Saga Continues

This blog is a follow-up to the guest blog issued on March 13, 2015, titled “Asylum Proceedings in the Ngudjolo Case: What Happened in the Dutch Courts.”

On December 18, 2012, judges at the International Criminal Court (ICC) acquitted Mathieu Ngudjolo Chui of charges of crimes against humanity and war crimes stemming from a 2003 attack on the village of Bogoro in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Fearing for his safety upon his return to the DRC, Ngudjolo filed a first application for asylum in the Netherlands on December 25, 2012, shortly after his acquittal by Trial Chamber II. This application was rejected; however, Ngudjolo remained in the Netherlands to await the ICC Appeals Chamber decision on his acquittal. After … Continue Reading

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