International Justice Monitor

A project of the Open Society Justice Initiative

Community Members in Northern Uganda Elated by Visit of ICC Judges

Community members in northern Uganda were elated by the visit of the three International Criminal Court (ICC) judges hearing the case against Dominic Ongwen. Judges Bertram Schmitt, Péter Kovács, and Raul C. Pangalangan visited northern Uganda from June 3-9, 2018 and interacted with community members in Pajule, Odek, Lukodi, and Abok. These are the locations in which Ongwen is accused of leading attacks on Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps.

Ongwen’s trial started on December 6, 2016, and the prosecution’s presentation of evidence concluded in April this year. The trial is currently on recess until September 18, when the defense will make its opening statements. Ongwen has been charged with 70 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity for his alleged … Continue Reading

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Bemba in Belgium After Release From ICC Detention

Jean-Pierre Bemba, the Congolese opposition leader freed from International Criminal Court (ICC) detention last Friday, was released to Belgium, whose government did not object to his presence in the country.

The 55-year-old former vice president of the Democratic Republic of Congo has a home in Belgium, where his wife and children live. He was initially arrested from the country back in May 2008 before being handed over to the ICC in July of that year.

Last Tuesday, Trial Chamber VII judges ordered Bemba’s release pending the determination of his new sentence in a case where he was convicted for tampering with witnesses. The decision followed his June 8, 2018 acquittal following an appeal in his main trial for war crimes and crimes … Continue Reading

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Ntaganda Lawyers Granted More Time to File Closing Brief

Former Congolese rebel commander Bosco Ntaganda’s lawyers have been granted a two-week extension to the deadline for filing their closing brief. The defense had requested an extra three weeks, citing, among other reasons, staff attrition from the defense team and anticipated delays in translating the prosecution’s closing brief into the Kinyarwanda language.

In the May 29 ruling, judges at the International Criminal Court (ICC) determined that, whereas “good cause has been shown to grant an extension,” two weeks would be sufficient. Accordingly, the defense has until July 2, 2018 to file its brief.

Ntaganda is on trial at the court based in The Hague over 18 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity, allegedly committed during an ethnic conflict in Congo’s … Continue Reading

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Les avocats de M. Ntaganda se voient accorder un délai pour déposer leur mémoire en clôture

Les avocats de l’ancien commandant rebelle congolais Bosco Ntaganda se sont vus accorder un report de la date limite pour le dépôt de leur mémoire en clôture. La défense avait demandé un délai de trois semaines, citant, entre autres motifs, la réduction des effectifs de personnel dans l’équipe de défense et les délais prévisibles pour traduire le mémoire en clôture de l’accusation en kinyarwanda.

Dans une décision du 29 mai, les juges de la Cour pénale internationale (CPI) ont décidé que, bien qu’un « motif valable ait été présenté pour un report », deux semaines devraient suffisantes. Ainsi, la défense a jusqu’au 2 juillet 2018 pour soumettre son mémoire.

Ntaganda est jugé devant la Cour basée à La Haye pour 18 chefs de crimes de guerre … Continue Reading

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Confirmation of Charges Hearing against Thomas Kwoyelo Postponed Again

The confirmation of charges hearing against Thomas Kwoyelo, alias Latoni, has been postponed yet again to July 23, 2018, purportedly due to a lack of quorum by the defense lawyers. The adjournment occurred on Monday, June 11, at the International Crimes Division (ICD) sitting at the High Court of Uganda in Kampala. The session was presided over by Justice Susan Okalany, who has overseen the pre-trial phase of Kwoyelo’s case since 2016.

During Monday’s hearing, Justice Okalany warned that this would be the last adjournment and stipulated that at the next hearing, the charges would be read and confirmed in the same week. Meanwhile, Kwoyelo, who was present in court, expressed anger at the slow pace of the proceedings, but the … Continue Reading

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Ongwen Defense Intends to Call 66 Witnesses When Trial Resumes in September

The defense of Dominic Ongwen, a former commander of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) who is on trial at the International Criminal Court (ICC), intends to call up to 66 witnesses to testify when hearings resume in September.

Single Judge Bertram Schmitt announced in a June 5 order that the trial of Ongwen will resume on September 18. At the ICC, the Single Judge is one of the judges of a trial chamber who is designated to handle procedural matters on behalf of the other judges.

In his order, Judge Schmitt said the defense will have five hours to make their opening statement on September 18. He also said the first block of witnesses will testify between September 27 and October 10.

When … Continue Reading

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Bemba Set For Release From ICC Detention

Judges at the International Criminal Court (ICC) have ordered the release from detention of former Congolese vice president Jean-Pierre Bemba, who was last Friday acquitted of war crimes.

In a decision issued Tuesday afternoon, judges considered it “disproportionate” to further detain Bemba “merely to ensure his appearance for sentencing” in a separate case over his conviction for witness tampering. He will be released as soon as the court’s Registry makes the necessary arrangements.

The 55-year-old former militia commander and opposition leader, who has been in the court’s detention for nearly 10 years, will be released to Belgium, where he will join his wife and five children. As part of his conditions for release, Bemba is expected to immediately surrender to authorities if … Continue Reading

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ICC Invites Opinions from Sudan and Others on Jordan’s Appeal Over Its Non-Compliance with Arresting al-Bashir

On May 25, 2018, the Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Court (ICC) invited submissions from the Sudanese government and President Omar Hassan Ahmad al-Bashir on the legal questions raised by Jordan in its pending appeal. The appeal originates from ongoing proceedings on the non-compliance of Jordan with the ICC in executing the arrest warrant against the Sudanese president upon his last visit to the country on March 29, 2017.

The Pre-Trial Chamber Non-Compliance Decision

Pre-Trial Chamber II of the ICC referred Jordan to the Assembly of States Parties of the Rome Statute (ASP) and the United Nations Security Council in December 2017 for not executing the court’s request for the arrest of al-Bashir when he was there for the League of Arab States’ … Continue Reading

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Bemba Acquitted of War Crimes at the ICC

The Appeals Chamber at the International Criminal Court (ICC) has overturned Jean-Pierre Bemba’s conviction for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

In a ruling issued Friday afternoon, a majority of appeals judges found that the trial chamber erred in finding that Bemba did not take necessary and reasonable measures to prevent the crimes committed in the Central African Republic (CAR) by his subordinate troops 16 years ago.

They also ruled that trial judges erroneously convicted Bemba for specific criminal acts that were outside the scope of the charges confirmed against him by the pre-trial chamber.

Judges Sanji Mmasenono Monageng and Piotr Hofmański disagreed with the majority’s decision to acquit Bemba. Other judges on the Appeals Chamber were Christine Van den Wyngaert (presiding), Chile Eboe-Osuji, … Continue Reading

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Molina Theissen Case: Court Orders Creation of a Commission to Search for Disappeared Persons and Other Reparations

In the aftermath of the May 23 guilty verdict against four senior military officials for crimes against humanity, aggravated sexual assault, and enforced disappearance in the Molina Theissen case, High Risk Court “C” convened a reparations hearing on May 28. The Molina Theissen family did not request economic reparations, which they had already received from the State of Guatemala after the 2004 judgement by the Inter-American Court for Human Rights found Guatemala responsible for the enforced disappearance of Marco Antonio Molina Theissen.

Former Army Chief of Staff and retired army general Benedicto Lucas Garcia participated via videoconference from the military hospital, as he has for the last several hearings of the proceedings, while the other three military officials convicted in the … Continue Reading

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