International Justice Monitor

A project of the Open Society Justice Initiative

Ruto and Sang Defense Want Trial Chamber Decision on Witness Statements Reversed

The Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Court (ICC) is set to announce on Friday its decision on whether statements five witnesses gave to prosecution investigators can be used as evidence in the trial of Deputy President William Samoei Ruto and former journalist Joshua arap Sang.

Lawyers for Ruto and Sang have appealed the majority decision of Trial Chamber V(a), made on August 19 last year, to admit the statements of five witnesses as evidence in the case against their clients. The lawyers filed their appeals in October last year. The prosecution filed their response in November.

The African Union (AU) Commission filed observations as a friend of the court after the Appeals Chamber allowed it to do so. In an October 12 decision, … Continue Reading

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Judges Grant Request for Medical Examination of Prosecution Witness

International Criminal Court (ICC) judges have ordered that a witness who testified at the court should undergo medical tests to verify injuries he claims were inflicted upon him by soldiers from war crimes accused Bosco Ntaganda’s group. The examination will aim to establish whether the alleged injuries are consistent with the testimony of the witness about the  location of the injury, its cause, and approximate date when it occurred.

During his testimony at the end of last month, Witness P790 said he was shot by soldiers belonging to the Union for Congolese Patriots (UPC), during an attack on the Congolese town of Kobu.

According to the defense, whether or not the witness was shot by UPC soldiers “is an important aspect of … Continue Reading

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Human Remains Presented as Evidence in Sepur Zarco Trial

The landmark Sepur Zarco trial started in Guatemala City on February 1, 2016. Prosecutors allege that in 1982, Guatemala’s armed forces repeatedly attacked the small village of Sepur Zarco, capturing and killing or disappearing male Q’eqchi’ campesino leaders who were seeking to obtain legal titles to their lands, which had been systematically taken away from them through fraud and violence. Prosecutors also allege that for the six months after the disappearances and executions of male community leaders in August 1982, soldiers raped many of the widows, often in front of children, and subjected them systematically to sexual and domestic slavery. In some cases these practices continued for six years. Two individuals, Lieutenant Esteelmer Reyes Giron and former military commissioner Gilberto … Continue Reading

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Ntaganda’s Lawyers Not Ready to Cross-Examine Witnesses

Bosco Ntaganda’s defense lawyers say they are not ready to cross-examine three prosecution witnesses who are scheduled to testify between this week and the end of the month. However, their pleas to have the testimony of these witnesses postponed have been rejected by International Criminal Court (ICC) judges.

At the start of today’s hearing, Stéphane Bourgon, who heads Ntaganda’s defense, said his team had suffered setbacks due to his own ill-health and the unavailability of co-counsel Luc Boutin. For about two weeks, Boutin has been unavailable for reasons not stated in public by the lead defense lawyer. He is expected to rejoin the defense team in the second week of March.

“Three witnesses are about to testify…the small but highly qualified defense … Continue Reading

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Victim Witnesses Tell of Atrocities at Sepur Zarco

The Sepur Zarco trial concluded its first week at a brisk pace, with more than 20 prosecution witnesses testifying in court. The witnesses have testified that the military made them engage in forced labor at the Sepur Zarco base, as well as sexual violence perpetrated by soldiers against women on the base and in their own homes. Several witnesses have also made reference to the fact that community members were seeking to obtain legal titles to their lands because big landowners were trying to take away their lands; many have stated their belief that this was the root of the violence that was visited upon Sepur Zarco in the early 1980s. This report covers hearings held between February 3 and … Continue Reading

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Les audiences ont été suspendues en raison de l’état de santé de l’avocat de M. Ntaganda

(CPI) a été annulée car il a été annoncé que l’avocat de l’accusé était souffrant. Au début des audiences de cet après-midi, Chloé Grandon, l’assistante juridique de l’équipe de la défense, a informé les juges que Stéphane Bourgon était à l’hôpital mais elle n’a pas fourni de détails.

Le juge président Robert Fremr a demandé si Me Grandon était autorisée à se substituer au conseil principal de la défense pour les audiences de la journée mais sa réponse a été négative. « Je n’ai pas de mandat pour représenter M. Ntaganda », a déclaré Me Grandon.

L’audience d’aujourd’hui a été repoussée. Un nouveau témoin de l’accusation devrait débuter sa déposition au procès de l’ancien commandant militaire congolais dont le procès s’est ouvert en septembre dernier.

L’accusation a … Continue Reading

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Hearing Cancelled Due to Poor Health of Ntaganda’s Lawyer

Today’s hearing in the trial of Bosco Ntaganda at the International Criminal Court (ICC) was cancelled because the accused’s lawyer was reported to be unwell. At the start of hearings this afternoon, Chloé Grandon, the defense team legal assistant informed judges that Stéphane Bourgon was in hospital but did not provide further details.

Presiding Judge Robert Fremr asked whether Grandon was authorized to substitute as the lead defense counsel for the day’s hearing to which she replied no. “I have no mandate to represent Ntaganda,” said Grandon.

The day’s hearing was then postponed. A new prosecution witness had been expected to start giving evidence in the trial of the former Congolese military commander whose trial opened last September.

The prosecution has called 11 witnesses to testify … Continue Reading

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Six Witnesses Recount Atrocities at Sepur Zarco on Day Two of Landmark Trial

The landmark Sepur Zarco trial for sexual violence, domestic and sexual slavery, and forced disappearance, began on February 1, 2016. Prosecution witnesses continued to be heard on the second day of the trial. Six witnesses testified in their native Q’eqchi’ language, as two interpreters consecutively relayed questions and answers from and to Spanish. The first woman witness-survivor to testify was Petrona Choc Cuc. While most of the women survivors will present their testimony via prerecorded videotape, which was admitted into evidence during preliminary proceedings, Choc Cuc spoke to the court in person and testified about the sexual violence that she and her daughter experienced at the hands of soldiers in the Sepur Zarco military base. Unlike most of the women … Continue Reading

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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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Les juges refusent des mesures de protection supplémentaires pour le témoin

Les juges de la Cour pénale internationale (CPI) ont refusé de réexaminer les mesures de protection en audience accordées à un témoin de l’accusation au procès de Bosco Ntaganda, jugeant « inapproprié » le fait d’augmenter le niveau des mesures de partiel à total.

Les juges Robert Fremr (juge président), Kuniko Ozaki et Chang-ho Chung ont décidé que les demandes de l’accusation relatives aux circonstances personnelles du témoin ne justifiaient pas un réexamen « exceptionnel » de son utilisation d’un pseudonyme pour y ajouter la déformation numérique du visage et de la voix lors des transmissions publiques de son témoignage.

Selon les juges, toutes les informations importantes sur la sécurité du témoin étaient en possession de la chambre lorsqu’elle avait rendu sa première décision sur des … Continue Reading

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