International Justice Monitor

A project of the Open Society Justice Initiative

Four Retired Senior Military Officers Found Guilty in Molina Theissen Case

Four retired senior members of the Guatemalan military—including two high-ranking officers previously thought to be untouchable, former Army Chief of Staff Benedicto Lucas García and former chief of military intelligence Manuel Callejas y Callejas—were convicted today in Guatemala of involvement in crimes against humanity. A fifth official was acquitted of all charges. Three of the officials received a sentence of 58 years in prison, while one was sentenced to 33 years.

The five retired military officials faced charges arising from the illegal detention, torture and sexual violation of Emma Molina Theissen, as well as separate charges for aggravated sexual assault. Three of the officials also faced charges for the enforced disappearance of Emma’s 14-year-old brother Marco Antonio in 1981. The five … Continue Reading

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Expert says former child soldiers are concerned most with stigma, education, and earning a living

A psychologist specialized in treating former child soldiers told the International Criminal Court (ICC) that the issues most important to former child soldiers are stigma, their interrupted education, and lack of a livelihood.

Michael Gibbs Wessells told the court on May 15 that former child soldiers did not rank their mental health as a top priority. He said the focus of many mental health specialists on providing clinical diagnosis and treatment to former child soldiers was “a cookie-cutter approach”.

Wessells said rehabilitating former child soldiers should include listening to them and combining Western psychiatry and psychology with traditional healing.

“Young people often tell me that stigma is a bigger problem than presumed or actual mental illness. Others say it is really the loss … Continue Reading

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Emma Molina Theissen Addresses Court as Guatemalan Atrocity Trial Moves to Conclusion

Monday’s proceedings in the trial of five senior Guatemalan military officers accused of crimes against the Molina Theissen family in 1981 included a personal declaration from Emma Molina Theissen—whose kidnapping, torture and sexual assault is central to the case against the five. It was the first time Ms Molina Theissen had addressed the court.

She stated that she wanted “to confirm that everything that my lawyers, the experts, and the witnesses have said are true: my captivity, torture, sexual violence, are the responsibility of the accused and very particularly Mr Zaldaña,” singling out Hugo Ramiro Zaldaña Rojas, the defendant who allegedly had direct control over her during the period of her detention. She added, in response to the defense lawyers who tried … Continue Reading

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Molina Theissen Trial Expected to Move to Verdict

The Molina Theissen trial is nearing its conclusion, with a verdict expected early this week.

Concluding remarks, which started last week, continued on Thursday, May 17, with Héctor Reyes, lawyer for the mother of the victims, Emma Theissen Alvarez de Molina, as well as defense lawyers for four of the defendants, addressing the court.

At the next hearing, scheduled for Monday, May 21, defense counsel for Benedicto Lucas García and each of the defendants in turn will present concluding remarks. Emma Molina Theissen and her mother will address the court, which will then schedule a final hearing. Civil party lawyers told IJ Monitor that this could be as early as Monday afternoon.

Concluding remarks: Emma Theissen Alvarez de Molina

In his concluding remarks, Reyes … Continue Reading

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Bemba Appeal Verdict to be Delivered on June 8

On June 8, 2018, judges at the International Criminal Court (ICC) will deliver the verdict in Jean-Pierre Bemba’s appeal against conviction for war crimes and crimes against humanity. Bemba, a former vice president of the Democratic Republic of Congo, appealed both his conviction and the 18-year prison sentence. Prosecutors also appealed the sentence, which they asked judges to raise to 25 years.

According to an order from the chamber handling the appeal, the judgement shall be delivered in open court at 16:00 local time in The Hague. The chamber is composed of judges Christine Van den Wyngaert (Presiding), Chile Eboe-Osuji, Sanji Monageng, Howard Morrison, and Piotr Hofmański.

In March 2016, Bemba was convicted of murder, rape, and pillaging stemming from his failure … Continue Reading

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The Molina Theissen Trial: Prosecutor Seeks 90-Year Sentence for Benedicto Lucas García

On Monday, May 14, concluding arguments continued in the Molina Theissen trial. Government prosecutor Eric de León presented his concluding arguments, followed by human rights lawyer Alejandro Rodriguez, who represents Emma Molina Theissen. De León called for prison sentences of 50 years against each of the five senior military officials on trial for crimes against humanity and aggravated sexual violation of Emma Molina Theissen. He called for an additional 40 years for Benedicto Lucas García, Manuel Callejas y Callejas and Hugo Zaldaña Rojas for the enforced disappearance of Marco Antonio Molina Theissen, who was 14 years old at the time and who remains missing.

The hearing suffered a number of delays. Defense counsel for Hugo Zaldaña Rojas arrived late. Later, a … Continue Reading

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Expert Testifies About Impact of Sexual Violence on the Mental Health of Survivors

A psychiatrist told the International Criminal Court (ICC) on Monday, May 14, that stabilizing a survivor of sexual violence is a crucial first step in dealing with the trauma the survivor has suffered.

Daryn Scott Reicherter told the court that this may be more important than helping a survivor of sexual violence get medical care. Reicherter was giving his opinion based on his experience in researching trauma and sexual violence in different parts of the world.

He is a professor of psychiatry at Stanford University and the director of the Human Rights and Trauma Mental Health Laboratory at the university.

Reicherter also based his opinion on his review of transcripts of the testimony of several survivors of sexual violence who have testified in … Continue Reading

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Researcher Tells ICC that LRA Attacks Have a Long-Term Impact on Survivors

A researcher told the International Criminal Court (ICC) that the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) attacks on three camps for internally displaced people (IDP) 14 years ago continue to have a negative impact on survivors of those attacks as well as their children.

Teddy Atim told the court on May 4 that survivors of the attacks on the Abok, Lukodi, and Odek IDP camps were generally worse off compared to other northern Ugandans who did not suffer similar attacks. Atim is a researcher with the Feinstein International Center of Tufts University.

Referring to research she conducted with others, Atim said there is a higher percentage of people with disabilities among survivors of the Abok, Lukodi, and Odek attacks compared to northern Ugandans not … Continue Reading

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Long-Time Councilor Says Lukodi Residents Still Suffer Impact of LRA Attack 14 Years Ago

A long serving councilor told the International Criminal Court (ICC) that many Lukodi residents have not recovered psychologically or economically since the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) attacked a camp in the area 14 years ago.

Gibson Okulu told the court on May 3 that Lukodi residents no longer collaborated on different projects as they used before the May 19, 2004 LRA attack on the Lukodi camp for internally displaced people (IDP).

He described many Lukodi residents suffering mental breakdowns or showing signs of depression. Okulu said those residents who were able to farm have not been able to regain the standard of livelihood they had before the May 2004 attack on the Lukodi.

Okulu said he has been a local councilor one (LC1) … Continue Reading

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Ntaganda Trial Judges Reject Prosecution Bid to Present Rebuttal Evidence on Credibility of 18 Witnesses

International Criminal Court (ICC) judges have denied prosecution requests to submit rebuttal evidence following the close of the defense case in the trial of former Congolese rebel leader Bosco Ntaganda.

The prosecution had sought to rebut defense evidence that questions the credibility of 18 dual-status witnesses, meaning prosecution witnesses who are also participating in the trial as victims. Furthermore, the prosecution sought to present a rebuttal witness whose evidence would dispute Ntaganda’s testimony that he lacked knowledge about a deadly attack by his fighters on a Congolese village in February 2003.

Ntaganda’s trial at the ICC for 18 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity started in September 2015 and saw the prosecution present the evidence of 71 witnesses. The defense … Continue Reading

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