International Justice Monitor

A project of the Open Society Justice Initiative

Psychiatrist Says Ongwen’s ‘Resilience’ Should be Taken into Account When ICC Considers Judgement

A psychiatrist called by the prosecution told the International Criminal Court (ICC) that the fact Dominic Ongwen was abducted as a child and survived for decades in the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) should be taken into account when judges determine his innocence or guilt.

Catherine Abbo, however, told the court that Ongwen did not have a mental disorder between 2002 and 2005, which is the period that covers the charges against him. Abbo testified between March 26 and March 28.

Ongwen has been charged with 70 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity allegedly committed in northern Uganda. As a commander of the LRA, Ongwen is alleged to have been involved in attacks on four camps for internally displaced people, and … Continue Reading

Leave a comment

Witness Testimony Resumes after Defense Lawyers Unsuccessfully Try to Remove Judge from Molina Theissen Case

On Monday, April 9, defense lawyers filed a recusal motion against Presiding Judge Pablo Xitumul, who is overseeing the Molina Theissen trial before High Risk Tribunal “C.” They claimed that Judge Xitumul’s father had been forcibly disappeared and that the Forensic Anthropology Foundation of Guatemala (FAFG) found his body in 2003 at a military base in Rabinal, Alta Verapaz. The court agreed to hear the arguments of the parties on the motion but ultimately ruled that the defense lawyers failed to demonstrate that there was any connection.

It remains unclear whether Judge Xitumul’s father was forcibly disappeared and whether his remains were found in 2003 as the defense lawyers claim.

Judge’s Father: Victim of Enforced Disappearance?

Jorge Lucas Cerna, son of and lawyer … Continue Reading

Leave a comment

“I Choose to Live:” Emma Molina Theissen Testifies in High-Stakes Guatemala Trial

The Molina Theissen trial continued in Guatemala City on April 2 and 3, 2018. The highly anticipated testimony of Emma Molina Theissen was heard on April 3, as well as an expert on military archives and strategy, Mario Tulio Álvarez. On April 2, psychologist Jorge de la Peña Martínez testified about the how the torture and sexual abuse endured by Emma Molina Theissen while in military detention affected her physically and psychologically. During her interrogations by the military, he said, “They physically attacked her; they deprived her of food and water; and they repeatedly raped her, all with the objective of destroying her psychologically, socially, and morally.”

Psychological expert: “The torture and sexual violence Emma experienced left a permanent mark on … Continue Reading

Leave a comment

La défense de M. Ntaganda conclut la présentation de ses moyens après avoir appelé 19 témoins

Les avocats de l’accusé de crimes de guerre Bosco Ntaganda ont conclu la présentation de leurs moyens après avoir appelé 19 témoins à témoigner devant la Cour pénale internationale (CPI). Le nombre de témoins qui ont apporté un témoignage en faveur de l’ancien commandant rebelle congolais est bien plus faible que les 111 personnes que la défense avait précédemment indiqué vouloir appeler.

Selon l’avocat de la défense Stéphane Bourgon, la défense a appelé quatre témoins qui ont apporté une déposition orale au siège de la Cour et huit autres témoins qui ont témoigné à distance par le biais d’un lien vidéo. Parmi ces témoins figurait M. Ntaganda, qui a témoigné pendant près de 120 heures sur une période de six semaines.

De plus, les témoignages de sept … Continue Reading

Leave a comment

Ntaganda Defense Closes Its Case After Calling 19 Witnesses

Lawyers for war crimes accused Bosco Ntaganda have closed their case after calling 19 witnesses to testify at the International Criminal Court (ICC). The number of witnesses who gave evidence for the former Congolese rebel commander is much lower than the 111 individuals whom the defense had earlier indicated it would call.

According to defense lawyer Stéphane Bourgon, the defense called four witnesses that testified orally at the seat of the court in The Hague and another eight who testified remotely through the use of video link. Among the witnesses was Ntaganda himself, who testified for up to 120 hours over six weeks.

In addition, the evidence of seven defense witnesses was admitted through Rule 68 of the court’s Rules of Procedure … Continue Reading

Leave a comment

The Molina Theissen Trial: Witness Illustrates the Impact of Argentine Military Training in Guatemala

The prosecution in the Molina Theissen trial has called four witnesses over the course of two hearings this week. On Monday, March 26, the prosecution called Dr. Julieta Carla Rostica, an Argentine sociologist who specializes in Central American studies and has investigated Argentine military training to Guatemala, and Ruth del Valle, a classmate of Emma Molina Theissen whose brother, Julio del Valle, was Emma’s boyfriend, and who was killed in 1980. On Tuesday, March 27, two expert witnesses from the Forensic Anthropology Foundation (FAFG) testified about the search for individuals who were the victims of enforced disappearance during the Guatemalan civil war (1960-1996).

Rostica’s expert testimony was particularly important. Drawing on Argentine military documents and declassified U.S. government documents, she testified … Continue Reading

Leave a comment

Witness Says Most Homes Were Burned During Lukodi Attack

A survivor of a Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) attack on the Lukodi camp for internally displaced (IDP) people 13 years ago told the International Criminal Court (ICC) that most homes in the camp were burned during the attack.

Witness P-187, who testified on Thursday and Friday, told the court the LRA abducted her during the attack and made her carry food. She said as they trekked away from Lukodi, she saw LRA fighters throw babies and children into the bush because they were crying.

The witness was testifying in the trial of a former LRA commander, Dominic Ongwen, who has been charged with 13 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity for his alleged role in the Lukodi attack. In total, … Continue Reading


Judges Abandon Idea of Conducting Ntaganda Closing Statements in Congo

An endeavor by the International Criminal Court (ICC) to conduct part of a trial hearing in a situation country has failed once again, after judges trying former militia commander Bosco Ntaganda abandoned their intention to hold closing arguments in his trial in Congo.

In a March 16, 2018 decision, the judges said that because of “the present security situation in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo,” and “the preparation time required for any such hearing to be arranged,” they did not intend to recommend to the court’s Presidency that closing statements be held in situ. They added, however, that they may consider holding certain other future hearings in situ, if deemed appropriate and feasible.

The town of Bunia, which bore the … Continue Reading

Leave a comment

The Molina Theissen Trial: Four Protected Witnesses Tell Harrowing Stories of Torture

The Attorney General’s Office called four protected witnesses to testify in the sixth hearing of the Molina Theissen case held on Monday, March 19.  The individuals, going by pseudonyms witnesses B, C, D, and E, gave their testimony via video conference from the Attorney General’s Office in Guatemala City. These precautionary measures were taken because of the security risks they face by giving their testimony in the case.

The witnesses included a woman who cared for Emma Molina Theissen in the days after she escaped military detention, who spoke to her physical and emotional condition.  Another person testified about the forced disappearance of her father, which he witnessed, and two siblings. The third witness described the torture he endured while in … Continue Reading

Leave a comment

Les juges abandonnent l’idée de tenir les déclarations finales du procès Ntaganda au Congo

La tentative de la Cour pénale internationale (CPI) de tenir une partie des audiences du procès dans un pays dont la situation est examinée par la Cour a encore échoué après que les juges statuant sur l’affaire de l’ancien commandant de milice Bosco Ntaganda aient abandonné leur intention de tenir les déclarations finales de son procès au Congo.

Dans une décision du 16 mars 2018, les juges ont déclaré que, étant donné la « situation présente en matière de sécurité dans l’est de la République démocratique du Congo » et « le temps de préparation requis pour qu’une telle audience soit ordonnée », ils n’avaient pas l’intention de recommander à la présidence de la Cour de tenir les déclarations finales in situ. Ils ont ajouté que, … Continue Reading

Leave a comment