International Justice Monitor

A project of the Open Society Justice Initiative

Trial Against Rios Montt is Increasingly Uncertain; Former Guatemalan Police Agent Ordered to Pay Reparations

Any new trial for former head of state Efraín Rios Montt and his then head of military intelligence, Mauricio Rodriguez Sanchez, for genocide and crimes against humanity is becoming increasingly uncertain. His conviction in 2013 was annulled on a technicality, and the new trial scheduled for January 5, 2015 was suspended after the general’s defense attorneys challenged the impartiality of the court president. Three weeks later, no judge has been named to replace Judge Jeannette Valdes, who was excluded from the case, and Rios Montt’s health situation is putting into serious doubt his eventual participation in any new judicial process.

Nonetheless, in other Guatemalan transitional justice processes, the court ordered the convicted defendant, former police official Pedro Garcia Arredondo, to pay … Continue Reading

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Ruto’s Lawyer Challenges Witness on Testimony About Fundraising Event

A defense lawyer challenged Witness 743 about a fundraising event during which he alleged William Samoei Ruto called for the eviction and killing of Kikuyus from the Rift Valley months ahead of the December 2007 presidential election.

Ruto’s lawyer, Shyamala Alagendra, questioned the witness on Thursday about an October 15, 2007 fundraising event held at an unnamed school. During the event, Ruto was alleged to have also helped raise money for the school and campaigned for the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) party.

In the lead up to the 2007 elections Ruto was a key ODM leader and was also seeking reelection to the National Assembly. Today he is Kenya’s deputy president. Ruto is on trial at the International Criminal Court (ICC) with former … Continue Reading

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Witness 743 Testifies Entirely in Private Session

Witness 743’s testimony was heard entirely in private session on Tuesday. All that was heard in open court were preliminaries and an application for Deputy President William Samoei Ruto to be allowed to leave the court a half hour early.

Ruto’s lead lawyer, Karim Khan, made the application at the start of the mid-morning session saying Ruto needed to catch a flight back to Kenya so he could be in the country later on Tuesday. Khan said this was necessary because President Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta is leaving the country on Wednesday morning to attend the first of the African Union’s regular biannual summits.

Presiding Judge Chile Eboe-Osuji conferred briefly with Judges Olga Herrera Carbuccia and Robert Fremr and said the chamber would … Continue Reading

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LRA Commander Ongwen Appears Before ICC Judge

Today, Ugandan rebel commander Dominic Ongwen made his initial appearance before an International Criminal Court (ICC) judge, nearly ten years after the world court issued an arrest warrant against him.

The alleged Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) second-in-command appeared before Pre-Trial Judge Ekaterina Trendafilova to confirm his identify and be informed of the charges against him.

Earlier this month, Mr. Ongwen reportedly surrendered to peacekeeping troops in the Central African Republic and his transfer to The Hague was agreed by American Special Forces and Ugandan troops searching for the group’s leaders in that country.

In court this afternoon, Mr. Ongwen said he was born in 1975 in the northern Uganda district of Gulu and abducted by the LRA at the age of 14 years. … Continue Reading

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Witness Tells ICC Judges PNU Members Gave Evidence Against Ruto

A witness told the International Criminal Court (ICC) that most of the witnesses whose statements were relied on to confirm charges against Deputy President William Samoei Ruto and former journalist Joshua arap Sang were members of the Party National Unity (PNU) that Ruto campaigned against in 2007.

Witness 743 said this on Monday in response to a question from Shyamala Alagendra, Ruto’s lawyer. Alagendra asked the witness not to name the other witnesses in court, and the rest of her questions to Witness 743 took place in private session.

Ruto and Sang have been charged with three counts of crimes against humanity for their alleged roles in the violence that erupted after the December 2007 presidential election. During that election Ruto was … Continue Reading

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Witness Testifies Mostly in Private Session

Witness 743 told the International Criminal Court (ICC) he told the prosecution what he heard Joshua arap Sang say on radio, but he did not give them any recordings of Sang’s programs on Kass FM.

The witness said this on Thursday in response to questions from Sang’s lawyer, Joseph Kipchumba Kigen-Katwa. The questions were based on Witness 743’s statements to the prosecution.

Sang is charged with three counts of crimes against humanity for his alleged role in the violence that erupted after the December 2007 presidential election. At the time, Sang was the star presenter on the Kalenjin language radio station, Kass FM. He has since left the station. Sang’s co-accused is Deputy President William Samoei Ruto, who is also charged with … Continue Reading

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Prosecution Calls Its Own Witness “Thoroughly Unreliable and Incredible”

A lawyer for Deputy President William Samoei Ruto asked the International Criminal Court (ICC) to suspend the prosecution’s questioning of Witness 743 until they investigate his claims that all witnesses whose statements were relied on to confirm the charges against Ruto had given false evidence.

Trial Chamber V(a) declined the application on Wednesday, adding the defense can revisit the application when it is their turn to question the witness. An investigator’s report the prosecution disclosed to the defense on Tuesday evening, after the day’s hearing had ended, prompted the application by Ruto’s lawyer, Shyamala Alagendra.

She told the chamber that the investigator’s report detailed a conversation a prosecution investigator had with Witness 743 in 2013 during which he made the allegation about the … Continue Reading

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Mixed Reactions in Uganda as LRA Commander is Transferred to the ICC

The transfer to the International Criminal Court (ICC) of Ugandan rebel commander Dominic Ongwen has drawn mixed reactions in his home country where he allegedly committed war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The second-in-command to Joseph Kony, whose Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) wrecked havoc in northern Uganda for nearly two decades, has arrived in The Hague following his surrender in the Central African Republic (CAR) earlier this month.

However, while there appears to be wide support in the capital Kampala for Mr. Ongwen’s trial in The Hague, local media has run numerous reports of victims of his crimes suggesting that the rebel commander should be tried locally.

There have also been suggestions by some victims, particularly members of his Acholi community that were … Continue Reading

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Guatemalan Police Official Found Guilty of Homicide and Crimes Against Humanity

Yesterday, a Guatemalan high-risk court convicted Pedro Garcia Arredondo, former head of “Command 6,” a special investigations unit of the now-defunct National Police, of homicide and crimes against humanity for his leadership of the 1980 siege of the Spanish embassy, which killed dozens of indigenous and student activists and diplomats. This notorious event during the Guatemalan internal armed conflict ruptured Guatemala’s relationship with Spain for years and preceded an intensifying conflict and further atrocities committed against indigenous communities and human rights activists. Thirty-five years after the events, this is the first time the case was heard before a court.

The court also found Arredondo guilty of the attempted murder of protester Gregorio Yuja Xona and former Spanish ambassador Maximo Cajal, the only survivors of … Continue Reading

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Trial Chamber Declares Witness 743 a Hostile Prosecution Witness

For the fifth time, Trial Chamber V(a) has declared a prosecution witness to be hostile in the International Criminal Court (ICC) trial of Deputy President William Samoei Ruto and former journalist Joshua arap Sang.

The chamber made the decision to declare Witness 743 hostile on Tuesday afternoon after hearing a prosecution application on the matter and observations from the defense and lawyer for victims. The submissions were made in private session, but the chamber’s decision was made in open court.

Ruto and Sang each face three counts of crimes against humanity for their alleged roles in the violence that erupted after the December 2007 presidential poll.

Presiding Judge Chile Eboe-Osuji said that based on the testimony the court had heard on Monday and … Continue Reading

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