International Justice Monitor

A project of the Open Society Justice Initiative

Prosecutor Wants Ntaganda Kept in ICC Detention

Prosecutors at the International Criminal Court (ICC) have asked judges not to release Bosco Ntaganda, the Congolese military leader who faces 18 charges at the world court.

They submitted that his continued detention was necessary to ensure his appearance at trial and the safety and security of witnesses in the lead up to trial.

“Mr. Ntaganda continues to have influence and strong support in the Congo. Taken together with the seriousness of the charges against him and his documented history of violence, the risk of the accused exerting pressure and intimidation on witnesses will increase if he were released,” said prosecution lawyer Nicole Samson.

Ms. Samson was speaking at a hearing convened on Thursday to seek observations on the periodic review of the … Continue Reading

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Judges Order Documents on Kenyatta Asset Freeze Be Made Public

Judges of the International Criminal Court (ICC) have ordered the Registry to make public five documents relating to a court-ordered request in April 2011 for cooperation on the freezing or seizure of the property and assets belonging to President Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta.

Trial Chamber V(b) said it made the order because some details of the confidential documents had been made public on five different occasions over the past year and a half. The chamber made its order on Tuesday.

The documents relate to a previously sealed order Pre-Trial Chamber II gave on April 5, 2011 to the Registry to send a request to the government of Kenya to assist in identifying, tracing, freezing, or seizing the assets of Kenyatta, former Public Service chief Francis Kirimi … Continue Reading

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Bemba’s Lawyer, Aides Released From ICC Detention

Today, Jean Pierre Bemba’s former lead defense lawyer and two associates were released from International Criminal Court (ICC) detention. The trio, along with another former lawyer to the Congolese opposition leader, had been held in The Hague for nearly a year on accusations of bribing witnesses and forging evidence.

According to a statement from the court, defense lawyer Aimé Kilolo Musamba was released in Belgium, Bemba’s former chief of staff Fidèle Babala Wandu in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and defense witness Narcisse Arido in France. Jean-Jacques Mangenda Kabongo, who was Mr. Bemba’s case manager at the time of his arrest, will be released as soon as the ICC Registry finalized all the necessary arrangements.

On Tuesday this week, pre-trial judge Cuno … Continue Reading

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Recalled Witness in Bemba Trial to Testify in Closed Session

All testimony by a prosecution witness who was recalled by International Criminal Court (ICC) judges to give evidence on issues of witness credibility in the trial of Jean-Pierre Bemba will be heard in closed session.

“The testimony of Witness 169 will be heard in full closed session,” announced Presiding Judge Sylvia Steiner at the start of hearings this morning. The witness is scheduled to testify over three days until Friday 24.

Judge Steiner explained that the court’s Victims and Witnesses Unit (VWU) conducted a security assessment to determine if the protective measures that were in place for the witness during his initial appearance before the court should remain in force. Based on the assessment, judges did not consider it necessary to alter the … Continue Reading

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Judge Orders Interim Release of Bemba Lawyers

An International Criminal Court (ICC) judge has ordered the release of the former head of Congolese opposition leader Jean-Pierre Bemba’s defense team, Aimé Kilolo Musamba, and former case manager Jean-Jacques Mangenda Kabongo.

The lawyers, who have been in detention in The Hague for nearly a year, were arrested following accusations of corruptly influencing witnesses and presenting forged evidence before the court.

Pre-trial chamber judge Cuno Tarfusser also ordered the release of Congolese Member of Parliament Fidèle Babala-Wandu and defense witness Narcisse Arido.

Release of the quartet is conditional upon the court’s registry ensuring they indicate the addresses at which they will be staying and sign personal commitments to appear when summoned. The suspects could remain in detention if the prosecution successfully appeals for … Continue Reading

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Appeals Chamber Hears Arguments in Ngudjolo Trial; Ngudjolo Claims He is a Victim

Today the Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Court (ICC) heard submissions from the parties in the trial of Mathieu Ngudjolo Chui.

Ngudjolo was charged with seven counts of war crimes (using children under the age of fifteen to take active part in hostilities; directing an attack against civilians; willful killing; destruction of property; pillaging; sexual slavery; and rape) and three counts of crimes against humanity (murder, rape, and sexual slavery) allegedly committed during an attack on the village of Bogoro, in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) on February 24, 2003.

For all of the crimes except those related to child soldiers, he is accused of having committed the crimes through “indirect co-perpetration,” where the accused used a hierarchical organization … Continue Reading

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Judges Order ICC Registry to Provide More Funds for Ntaganda Defense Team

Judges at the International Criminal Court (ICC) on Friday ordered the court’s Registry to provide the necessary resources for Bosco Ntaganda to hire an additional legal staff.

“The Chamber orders the Registry to make available funds for a legal assistant for the duration of the trial until closing statements,” said Presiding Judge Robert Fremr.

The order was given during a status conference to discuss the progress of preparations for the trial of the Congolese military leader, which is scheduled to open on June 2, 2015.

Mr. Ntaganda, who voluntarily surrendered to the court in March 2013, was found indigent and entitled to legal assistance. Last July, Marc Desalliers, who had been lead counsel for Mr. Ntaganda since April 2013, requested to step down … Continue Reading

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Why Try Khmer Rouge Leaders Twice?

Nuon Chea is 88 years old. Khieu Samphan is 84. They are the most senior surviving officials of the Khmer Rouge, the regime that ruled Cambodia from 1975 to 1979 and is responsible for the deaths of up to two million Cambodians. Both men have already been tried, found guilty of crimes against humanity, and sentenced to life imprisonment (those sentences are currently being appealed).

So why is the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (or ECCC, the tribunal jointly established by the UN and government of Cambodia) trying them again, for a second set of crimes? Why is a court that has spent over $200 million to find three people guilty actually holding a second trial for two of … Continue Reading

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Hearing of Recalled Prosecution Witness in Bemba Trial Postponed

The hearing scheduled for this week to consider additional evidence from a witness who previously testified for the prosecution in Jean-Pierre Bemba’s trial has been cancelled due to undisclosed logistical reasons.

‘Witness 169’ was recalled by International Criminal Court (ICC) judges to testify about allegations of collusion between prosecution witnesses and the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP). It is alleged that the OTP made payments to witnesses in exchange for their testimony. The witness had been scheduled to testify at the seat of the court on October 14 and 15. However, court officials said today that logistical difficulties had prompted the postponement of the hearing. New dates would be confirmed in due course.

On October 2, 2014, judges issued a notice temporarily reopening the presentation of … Continue Reading

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STL Appeals Chamber Decides It Can Prosecute Legal Persons for Contempt

This guest blog is written by Anne-Marie Verwiel and Karlijn van der Voort, defense lawyers specialized in international criminal law who are monitoring the proceedings at the Special Tribunal for Lebanon. For more information, see the Special Tribunal for Lebanon Blog. The views and opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the Open Society Justice Initiative.


In a completely unexpected decision earlier this month, the Appeals Chamber of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL), only consisting of three judges, ruled that it has jurisdiction to prosecute legal persons, such as corporations, for contempt of court.

The STL has been created to prosecute those suspected of involvement in the bombing of February 14, 2005 in Beirut that killed former Prime … Continue Reading

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