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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Gbagbo and Blé Goudé Trial: Fatou Bensouda Submits Mid-Trial Brief

Fatou Bensouda, Prosecutor at the International Criminal Court (ICC), had 30 days from February 9, 2018 to file her observations after the conclusion of evidence from the prosecution witnesses in the Gbagbo and Blé Goudé trial. The Gambian jurist did not wait for the deadline to expire.

After the appearance of Professor Hélène Etté, the last prosecution witness in the joint trial of Laurent Gbagbo and Charles Blé Goudé, the judges invited Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda to present her observations on the procedure and her evidence at the latest 30 days after February 9.

The Gambian jurist sent her brief to the judges on March 19, 2018. The document called “mid-trial brief” made clarifications in appendices on the various events alleged against … 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 Wednesday, March 14. 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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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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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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Witness Says Ongwen Feared Escaping the LRA Because of ICC Arrest Warrant

A former captain of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) told the International Criminal Court (ICC) that he confided in Dominic Ongwen nine years ago about his plans to escape the rebel group, hoping Ongwen would join him.

Witness P-209 told the court Ongwen listened to his proposal but told him that he feared the ICC arrest warrant issued against him. Witness P-209 said he did not fear Ongwen would reveal his plans because he knew at the time Ongwen was not on good terms with LRA leader Joseph Kony, just like himself. Both of them knew they could be killed at any time.

The witness testified in the trial of Ongwen between Tuesday, February 27, and Wednesday, February 28. Ongwen, a former … Continue Reading

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