International Justice Monitor

A project of the Open Society Justice Initiative

Liberian Jungle Jabbah Trial in Philadelphia: The Quest for Justice

Beginning on October 2, Mohammed Jabbateh, also known as “Jungle Jabbah,” a former United Liberation Movement of Liberia for Democracy (ULIMO) commander during Liberia’s First Civil War, will stand trial in Philadelphia. He is accused of lying about his wartime actions on his US asylum claim in the late 1990s.

This will be the first time that victims will testify in a criminal trial about the First Liberian Civil War. The trial is also a unique and historical step by the US attorney’s office to present a war crimes case in a national courtroom.

If convicted, Jabbateh will face a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison.

The US attorney stated, “This defendant allegedly committed unspeakable crimes in his home country, brutalizing numerous … Continue Reading

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Witness Tells Court How Tape Recordings of LRA Radio Communications Were Enhanced

A prosecution forensic officer described to the International Criminal Court (ICC) how he and a colleague enhanced speech in recordings of radio communications of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) that Ugandan security agencies intercepted more than a decade ago.

Xavier Laroche told the court on Thursday that he and Sabina Zanetta only enhanced speech from cassette recordings of LRA radio communications that were intercepted by Ugandan security agencies. Laroche said they did not authenticate the cassette tapes or carry out any other investigation on the tapes.

Laroche was testifying in the trial of Dominic Ongwen, a former LRA commander who has been charged with 70 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity. Ongwen has been charged for his alleged role in … Continue Reading

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Ríos Montt Genocide Trial Set to Restart on Friday

The trial against former Guatemalan dictator José Efraín Ríos Montt and his military intelligence chief José Rodríguez Sánchez for the Maya Ixil genocide is set to restart this Friday, October 13. Both men were prosecuted in this landmark case in 2013; High Risk Tribunal A found Ríos Montt guilty of genocide and crimes against humanity and sentenced him to 80 years in prison, while it acquitted Rodríguez Sánchez of all charges. The Constitutional Court then vacated the ruling in a highly controversial split decision that partially suspended the proceedings, effectively nullifying the verdict, even though the court did not even acknowledge that a verdict had been handed down. Several attempts to relaunch the proceedings have failed.

The genocide case will be … Continue Reading

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Witness Who Survived Pajule Attack Says No One in LRA Spoke About Ongwen Taking Part in Attack

A survivor of the October 2003 attack on the Pajule camp for internally displaced people told the International Criminal Court (ICC) that during his time with the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) no one told him Dominic Ongwen participated in the attack.

Witness P-081 told the court on Wednesday that he saw or heard about other LRA commanders who took part in the attack, such as then deputy LRA leader Vincent Otti, but did not see or hear about Ongwen taking part in the attack on Pajule.

Ongwen has been charged with 10 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity for his alleged role in the October 10, 2003 attack on Pajule. He has also been charged for his alleged role in … Continue Reading

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Ntaganda Trial on Break After Testimony of Seventh Defense Witness

The trial of former Congolese militia commander Bosco Ntaganda at the International Criminal Court (ICC) is on a break until October 17, when judges will hear the evidence of the eighth defense witness.

The break came after the conclusion of the two-day testimony of the seventh witness called by Ntaganda’s lawyers. Testifying under the pseudonym Witness D-211, her evidence was heard via video link and entirely in closed session.

In an application to hear the testimony of Witness D-211 via video link, defense lawyers stated that the witness had expressed concerns that traveling to the seat of the court may expose her identity. While the scope of her testimony was redacted from the defense’s public filing, the document indicates that the witness … Continue Reading

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Witness Denies Allegations that Ugandan Army Commanders Committed Atrocities in Northern Uganda

A defense lawyer questioned how Ugandan intelligence agencies could have given evidence on the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) to the International Criminal Court (ICC) months before the court issued an arrest warrant for five LRA commanders.

Krispus Ayena Odongo, the lead lawyer for Dominic Ongwen, challenged witness Lieutenant Colonel Timothy Nabaasa Kanyogonya on how he determined what evidence to give the ICC in 2004 without an arrest warrant. On Tuesday, Kanyogonya said he was a lawyer and was competent to assess what the ICC may need.

Kanyogonya was testifying as the person who liaised between various Ugandan intelligence agencies and the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP), handling requests for information and other matters. Kanyogonya is the director of legal services at the … Continue Reading

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Ugandan Army Officer Says He was Unaware of LRA Warning About Pajule Attack

The Ugandan army commander responsible for protecting the Pajule camp for internally displaced people told the International Criminal Court (ICC) he was not aware the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) warned of an attack months before the group hit the camp.

On September 28, John Lubwama told the court that he did not know about a letter the LRA sent warning of another attack on Pajule after the camp had been attacked in January 2003. Lubwama also said he did not hear reports of an impending attack from either residents of Pajule or abductees who had escaped the LRA.

Lubwama commanded a unit made of Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) soldiers and militiamen that was responsible for protecting Pajule when it was attacked … Continue Reading

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The Anti-CICIG Campaign in Guatemala: Implications for Grave Crimes Cases (Part II)

The campaign against the International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) and Commissioner Iván Velásquez, which we analyzed in a previous post, remains at a tense standstill. While CICIG’s mandate does not allow it to investigate cases related to Guatemala’s internal armed conflict, it has played a fundamental role in strengthening the country’s justice system, empowering judicial operators, and building the capacity of the Attorney General’s Office. It has expanded prosecutorial capacity in corruption and organized crime cases, as well as in grave crimes cases in Guatemala’s domestic courts, from the genocide case against former dictator José Efraín Ríos Montt, to the CREOMPAZ and Molina Theissen cases, which are currently awaiting trial. Today, we explore the possible consequences of the … Continue Reading

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ICC Prosecutor, Victims Continue to Oppose Lubanga’s Early Release

The prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) has opposed a possible early release for Thomas Lubanga, the first person convicted by the court, who is currently serving a 14-year prison sentence. Similarly, the victims of Lubanga’s crimes have asked judges not to shorten his jail term.

In a submission to the ICC appeals chamber considering a possible reduction of the sentence, prosecutor Fatou Bensouda stated that Lubanga does not deserve early release. “The gravity of the crimes for which he was convicted—the enlistment, recruitment, and use of children under the age of 15 to participate in hostilities, which exploited the vulnerability of the victims—require that he serves the full term of his 14-year sentence. He should remain in detention,” stated … Continue Reading

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Military Lawyer Says Uganda Gave ICC Evidence on 15 LRA Commanders

One of Uganda’s top military lawyers told the International Criminal Court (ICC) that the evidence Uganda’s intelligence agencies gave to the court went beyond information on just Dominic Ongwen and involved about 15 commanders of the Lord’s Resistance Army.

Lieutenant Colonel Timothy Nabaasa Kanyogonya told the court on Monday that he acted as a liaison between the Ugandan military, civilian intelligence agencies, and the ICC. He said he did this as the director of legal services at the Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence, a position he said he has held since May 2004, but with some interruptions.

Kanyogonya was testifying in the trial of Ongwen, who has been charged with 70 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity for his alleged role … Continue Reading

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