International Justice Monitor

A project of the Open Society Justice Initiative

Judges: Defense Experts Did Not Find Ongwen Mentally Unfit for Trial

Trial judges at the International Criminal Court (ICC) have said defense psychiatric experts have implicitly found Dominic Ongwen is mentally fit to stand trial, but they have also raised concerns about his mental health while at the ICC detention center.

Trial Chamber IX, the three-judge panel that is overseeing Ongwen’s trial, said this ties with the conclusion they reached at the start of the trial in December last year. In their December 16 decision, the judges ordered another expert examine Ongwen to determine what his mental health needs are. The expert, Joop T. V. M. de Jong, has been recommended by the ICC Registry after consulting the defense and prosecution.

The chamber’s decision on having Ongwen’s mental health assessed was made after … Continue Reading

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Ntaganda Requests Judicial Site Visit to Congo

Bosco Ntaganda’s lawyers have requested that International Criminal Court (ICC) judges make a judicial site visit to locations in the Democratic Republic of Congo where Ntaganda and his troops allegedly committed crimes during 2002 and 2003. They asked that the visit takes place before the start of the defense case.

In a February 8, 2017 filing, lead defense counsel Stéphane Bourgon said such a timing for the visit would allow judges to gain knowledge of locations mentioned by prosecution witnesses “but which remain vague and unfamiliar given that no concrete evidence was adduced in respect of these locations.” Such knowledge is essential to judges’ understanding of the evidence to be presented by the defense, he added.

The defense request comes after a … Continue Reading

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M. Ntaganda demande une visite judiciaire des sites au Congo

Les avocats de Bosco Ntaganda ont demandé que les juges de la Cour pénale internationale (CPI) fassent une visite judiciaire des sites situés en République démocratique du Congo dans lesquels M. Ntaganda et ses troupes auraient commis des crimes en 2002 et 2003. Ils ont demandé que la visite s’effectue avant la présentation des éléments de la défense.

Dans un document déposé le 8 février 2017, le conseil principal de la défense Stéphane Bourgon a déclaré que cette date de visite permettraient aux juges d’acquérir des connaissances sur les lieux mentionnés par les témoins de l’accusation « mais qui restent vagues et peu définis puisqu’aucune preuve concrète n’a été produite pour ces endroits ». Il a ajouté que cette connaissance était essentielle pour que les … Continue Reading

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Stocktaking: Reactions to Ongwen’s Trial Thus Far

It has been over two months since the trial of Dominic Ongwen started at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, the Netherlands. Once a commander in the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), Ongwen is charged with 70 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity allegedly committed in the former Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps of Lukodi, Odek, Pajule, and Abok in northern Uganda. His trial began on December 6, 2016, with opening statements from the ICC prosecutor and lawyers representing victims in the case. On January 16, the main phase of the trial commenced with the prosecution presenting its first witness. On February 3, Presiding Judge Bertram Schmitt announced that the court would take a three weeks’ break … Continue Reading

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Testimony of the Former Director-General of the Ivorian Police Ends

After six days of interrogation, the testimony of Brédou M’Bia, the police boss at the time of the post-election crisis, closed two days ahead of what had been announced. The trial will resume on March 6.

Brédou M’Bia’s testimony ended on Wednesday, February 22. Jean-Serges Gbougnon, of the Abidjan Bar and lawyer of Charles Blé Goudé, took the floor.

“I know it’s a bit difficult because usually you are the one who asks questions,” he told the former DGPN at the beginning of the session.

Turning to various statements by the witness and reports attached to the file or evoked during the hearings, the defense sought to show that the identification of certain groups of students, young people, or marchers, whether pro-Gbagbo or … Continue Reading

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Witness Questioned About the Ethnicity of Police Officers

Tuesday’s hearing in the Laurent Gbagbo and Charles Blé Goudé trial was reserved for questions by the defense to witness P-46, director-general of the police at the time of the Ivorian crisis.

Brédou M’Bia’s interrogation continued on Tuesday, February 21, in the presence of Laurent Gbagbo and the former Youth Minister Charles Blé Goudé. Both are accused of crimes against humanity for the violent aftermath of the November 2010 presidential election. According to the prosecution, they allegedly organized a “common plan” to allow Gbagbo to retain power “by all means.”

“I do not know if there were armed marchers“

On his fifth day of testimony, Emmanuel Altit, Gbagbo’s lead defense lawyer, returned to Alassane Ouattara’s supporters’ December 16, 2010 march on the Ivorian … Continue Reading

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Brédou M’Bia: ‘We Asked the Head of State to Withdraw’

The 34th prosecution witness in the Gbagbo-Blé Goudé trial, former Ivorian police chief Bredou M’Bia, continued his testimony on Monday, February 20, at the International Criminal Court (ICC). He has been in court since February 15 and has already very much informed the chamber.

This was the fourth hearing day for Bredou M’Bia. As with many witnesses, the personality of this former Ivorian police official during the 2010-2011 crisis had been appearing more and more clearly hour after hour and question after question. Sitting calmly at his table, this high-ranking officer, about whom it was now discovered that he had sometimes expressed opinions that diverged from those of his hierarchy, did not seem to have shown blind docility.

Sackings and dismissals

It was … Continue Reading

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Witness: ‘We Were Asked to Pledge Allegiance to Gbagbo’

Brédou M’Bia is a significant witness. The written testimony of this high-ranking Ivorian police officer, who was on duty at the time of the post-election crisis, is almost 400 pages and contains 333 documents. His interrogation is expected to last at least another week.

The duration of the hearings is continually lengthened to complete Bredou M’Bia’s testimony. A Director-General of the National Police until January 2017, he is the 34th witness in the trial of the former Ivorian President and his Youth Minister for crimes against humanity. After interrogating him for nine hours and 30 minutes, the prosecution had not concluded by Friday and even suggested to an exhausted courtroom that they start the hearing earlier on Monday.

“I feel like a … Continue Reading

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‘The Minister’s code was Atlas’

Former Ivorian police chief Brédou M’Bia, who is present in The Hague to testify in the Laurent Gbagbo and Charles Blé Goudé trial, continued giving evidence on Thursday, February 16.

Brédou M’Bia’s testimony, which started on Wednesday with a 24 hours’ delay following debates related to his protection, resumed on February 16 at the International Criminal Court (ICC). A technical problem first interrupted the barely open audience and irritated Presiding Judge Cuno Tarfusser, “My dream of a trouble-free day will not come true today.”

Eric MacDonald, lead prosecutor in the case, then resumed his interrogation with the exploration of the communication systems used within the state forces and, more specifically, within the police.

The complex network of police communications

MacDonald sought to explain the … Continue Reading

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Last Prosecution Witness Testifies in Ntaganda Trial

The prosecution has called its final witness in the International Criminal Court (ICC) trial of former Congolese rebel leader Bosco Ntaganda, which opened 17 months ago.

Today, the last prosecution witness testified about school records for some of the alleged former child soldiers who testified in the trial earlier. Désiré Dudunyabo Tandana, also known as Witness P551, is a former inspector of schools in the eastern Congo town of Bunia, and he was questioned about records that showed the age of former pupils in various schools.

Establishing the age of the students when they were enrolled in school is one of the means the prosecution has used to show that at the time these children purportedly served in Ntaganda’s Union of Congolese Patriots … Continue Reading

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