International Justice Monitor

A project of the Open Society Justice Initiative

Expert Says Ongwen Did Not Have a Mental Illness While in the LRA

A forensic psychiatrist told the International Criminal Court (ICC) that if Dominic Ongwen had a mental illness while he was in the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) it would have been difficult for him to mask its symptoms from the people around him.

Gillian Clare Mezey told the court on Tuesday that based on material she reviewed her conclusion was Ongwen did not have a mental illness during the time he was a LRA commander between 2002 and 2005.

Ongwen, who disrupted Monday’s afternoon session and was removed from the court, was present in court on Tuesday. He did not make a statement as Presiding Judge Bertram Schmitt had suggested the previous day, but Ongwen sat throughout Tuesday’s hearing without any further incident.

Mezey … Continue Reading

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Judges Remove Ongwen from Court for Disrupting Hearing

The chamber adjudicating the trial of Dominic Ongwen ordered he be removed from court after he disrupted proceedings on Monday, March 19. His trial was just resuming after a break of almost three weeks.

The disruption happened during the afternoon session as Gillian Clare Mezey gave her opinion of Ongwen’s mental state based on extracts of testimony previous prosecution witnesses had given about their interaction with Ongwen when he was a commander of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA).

Mezey had given her views on seven pages of extracts of witness testimony in open court when, as she began to comment on the next extract, Thomas Obhof, one of Ongwen’s lawyers, asked that her comments be in private session because the extract was … Continue Reading


The Molina Theissen Trial: Protected Witness Confirms He Saw Emma Molina Theissen in Military Custody

The fifth session of the Molina Theissen trial took place on Thursday, March 15. Rodolfo Robles Espinoza, a retired Peruvian general who presented his expert testimony on the structure, organization, and doctrine of the Guatemalan military during the internal armed conflict (1960-1996) in the previous session of the trial, answered questions posed by the civil parties and the defense lawyers for more than four hours.

Following Robles was protected witness “G” who was a member of the Guatemalan Workers’ Party (PGT). Emma Molina Theissen was a member of the Patriotic Worker Youth (JPT), an affiliate organization of the PGT. Witness “G” testified about the capture and arrest of Emma between September 27 and October 5, 1981 and affirmed that he witnessed … Continue Reading

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Bemba Wants Judges Disqualified From Deciding How Much He Should Pay Victims

Jean-Pierre Bemba is seeking the disqualification of International Criminal Court (ICC) judges from the panel that will determine the reparations he will pay to victims of his crimes. The former Congolese vice president, who is serving an 18-year sentence for war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in the Central African Republic (CAR), accuses the judges of bias.

According to defense lawyer Peter Haynes, given the pattern of rulings issued by Trial Chamber III in the conduct of reparations proceedings, “a reasonable perception of a predisposition” against Bemba arises. Haynes has requested that a plenary of judges considers Bemba’s request to disqualify the judges pursuant to article 41(2) of the court’s statute.

At the time of Bemba’s original request for recusal, Trial … Continue Reading

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Judges Allow Victims to Call Seven Witnesses in Ongwen Trial

The International Criminal Court (ICC) has said seven witnesses will testify in the next phase of the trial of Dominic Ongwen, which is tentatively set to start on April 30.

During the next phase of trial victims’ lawyers will be able to present evidence highlighting the harm victims have suffered during the crimes Ongwen is alleged to have had a role in. Ongwen, who is charged with 70 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity, is alleged to have committed the crimes between July 2002 and December 2005 while he was a commander of the Lord’s Resistance Army. He has pleaded not guilty to all counts.

Trial Chamber IX said in its March 6 decision it will allow four expert witnesses … Continue Reading

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President of Attorney General Nominating Commission Mentioned in Alleged Bribery Scheme to Control Nominating Commissions in 2014

Guatemala is in the process of selecting its next attorney general to serve a four-year term: May 2018-May 2022. Because the process and result could have tremendous implications for grave crimes trials and the rule of law in Guatemala, the International Justice Monitor is providing regular situation reports.

The Attorney General’s Office and International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) announced on February 27 that it had issued arrest warrants in relation to an alleged scheme to rig the 2014 Nominating Commission for the selection of judges to the Supreme Court of Justice and civil and criminal appellate courts. Although he is not among the individuals charged, Supreme Court of Justice (SCJ) President José Antonio Pineda Barales met the accused mastermind of the … Continue Reading

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Military Expert: Senior Military Officials are Responsible for the Crimes against Emma and Marco Antonio Molina Theissen

Adriana Portillo-Bartow, a well-known human rights activist in Guatemala, testified on Tuesday, March 13, in the fourth session of the Molina Theissen trial. The case involves five senior military officers, who are facing charges for the arbitrary detention, torture, and sexual violation of Emma Molina Theissen and the enforced disappearance of her 14-year-old brother, Marco Antonio.

As a witness for the prosecution, Portillo-Bartow’s testimony focused on the enforced disappearance of six members of her family, three of whom were children between the ages of one and 10. Her testimony is one of several that will focus on the military’s practice of enforced disappearance, particularly involving children. The prosecution intends for this to establish that the Guatemalan armed forces engaged in a … Continue Reading

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Katanga Loses Appeal Against US$1 Million Reparations Order

International Criminal Court (ICC) appeals judges have confirmed the reparations order issued last year against former Congolese rebel leader Germain Katanga, including the US$1 million that he was ordered to pay to victims of his crimes.

Also in the ruling delivered on March 8, appeals judges directed the trial chamber that issued the reparations order to freshly assess five applications for reparations that they disallowed. Trial judges earlier concluded that they were unable to determine a causal nexus between the trauma suffered by the five applicants and the attack in 2003 on the Congolese town of Bogoro over which Katanga was convicted.

The five victims were born after the Bogoro attack, but they applied for reparations claiming “transgenerational harm” passed on to … Continue Reading

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How the ICC Field Office in Uganda is Using SMS to Update Communities about the Ongwen Trial

In northern Uganda, many people have expressed interest in following the trial of former Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) commander Dominic Ongwen. However, most people are unable to do so on a regular basis due to lack of convenient channels. For this reason, the International Criminal Court (ICC) field office in Uganda began disseminating information through short message services (SMS) or text messages. This article explores perspectives of select community members in Lukodi village regarding the effectiveness of the initiative.

Ongwen, a former commander of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) has been on trial since December 6, 2016. He is charged with 70 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity allegedly committed in the former Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps of … Continue Reading

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Appeals Judges Affirm Witness Tampering Convictions against Bemba and His Lawyers

Appeals judges at the International Criminal Court (ICC) have upheld the witness tampering convictions against Jean-Pierre Bemba and his four associates. However, they overturned [pdf] Bemba and his lawyers’ conviction over presentation of false oral testimony in the former Congolese vice president’s main trial over war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The judges confirmed all the other convictions of giving false testimony and corruptly influencing witnesses against Bemba and his former lawyers Aimé Kilolo Musamba and Jean Jacques Mangenda. They equally upheld the convictions for corruptly influencing witnesses against Bemba’s aides Fidèle Babala Wandu and Narcisse Arido.

In another ruling, appeals judges reversed [pdf] the sentences imposed on Bemba, Kilolo, and Mangenda and directed the trial chamber that sentenced them to determine new sentences. … Continue Reading

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