International Justice Monitor

A project of the Open Society Justice Initiative

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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Ntaganda’s Trial at ICC to Open in June 2015

The trial of Congolese military leader Bosco Ntaganda at the International Criminal Court (ICC) will open on June 2, 2015, according to a notice issued today by judges.

Mr. Ntaganda, who has been in the custody of the court since surrendering in March 2013, faces 18 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity. The crimes were allegedly committed while he served as the deputy chief of staff of the Patriotic Forces for the Liberation of Congo (FPLC) during the 2002-2003 ethnic conflict in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.

Pre-trial judges last June confirmed 18 charges against Mr. Ntaganda and committed him to trial. However, while the trial had been expected to start by early 2015, the prosecution asked for more time … Continue Reading

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Appeals Chamber Upholds Trial Judges’ Decision to Compel Witnesses to Testify in Ruto and Sang Trial

The Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Court (ICC) has upheld the decision of a lower chamber to summon witnesses who are reluctant to testify in the trial of Deputy President William Samoei Ruto and former journalist Joshua arap Sang.

In an unanimous decision announced on Thursday, the Appeals Chamber also upheld the decision of Trial Chamber V(a) to compel those witnesses to testify so long as they give their testimony in Kenya. Presiding Judge Akua Kuenyehia, while reading the summary of the Appeals Chamber’s decision in open court, noted that a trial chamber could compel witnesses to testify as long as they testified in their country of residence.

Judge Kuenyehia said the Appeals Chamber reached this conclusion based on the drafting history … Continue Reading


ICC Prosecutor Asks Court to Decide on Indefinitely Adjourning Kenyatta Case or Terminating It

Prosecution asks judges to either accept request for indefinite adjournment of Kenyatta trial, pending delivery of records requested from the Kenyan government, or to terminate case.
Defense calls for termination on grounds of lack of evidence.
Trial chamber judges offer no indication of when decision on next steps will be delivered.

The Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Fatou Bensouda, has asked trial judges to decide whether to adjourn indefinitely the case against Kenyan President Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta or terminate it and not consider any halfway measure.

Steven Kay, who represents Kenyatta, asked the judges not only to terminate the case, but also enter a verdict in favor of his client. Bensouda and Kay made these submissions during Wednesday’s status conference that Trial … Continue Reading


Prosecution Says Consultations on Kenyatta Records are Deadlocked; Attorney General Disagrees

The prosecution told the International Criminal Court (ICC) that they have reached a deadlock in their consultations with the government of Kenya on how to obtain records that they first requested two and a half years ago.

Kenya’s Attorney General, Githu Muigai, however, disagreed that the consultations were deadlocked and gave Trial Chamber V(b) an assurance that his office would be able to provide any records requested within 72 hours as long as he was given “actionable information.”

Senior trial lawyer Benjamin Gumpert, leading the prosecution, and Muigai made these observations on Tuesday at a status conference the chamber called to be appraised of the progress in implementing its orders set out in a July 29 decision.

In her opening remarks, Presiding Judge Kuniko … Continue Reading