Last week, the Swiss authorities have arrested two Kosovans wanted by Serbia for suspected war crimes.
The men, whose identity was kept confidential, are suspected of committing war crimes as members of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) during the 1998–99 war.
The first man is suspected of participating in armed attacks in 1998 against two villages situated in Kosovo.
Serbia accuses him of a range of crimes, including murder, rape and conducting illegal arrests.
The second man was arrested during a routine check in Geneva and is suspected of having killed a civilian in 1999.
The Serbian authorities have requested their extradition but both men have refused it.
Moreover, Kosovo insists that it should handle cases of suspected war crimes committed by Kosovan citizens, and not Serbia.
In that vein, the Kosovo Justice Minister sent a letter to his Swiss counterpart to object to any plans to extradite the men to Serbia.
The Swiss Justice Ministry confirmed that the Swiss Justice Minister had received a letter, and had responded, addressing his concerns.
The Association of Defence Counsel Practising Before the ICTY (ADC-ICTY) has published the 100th issue of its newsletter.
This edition covers the recent developments in the Mladić case as well as in the Karadžić case, where the Defence filed two motions before the Appeals Chamber of the MICT (Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals) requesting on one hand the Prosecution to disclose statements to the Defence and on the other hand access to Ex Parte Filings in Completed Cases.
The newsletter also addresses the recent developments which took place at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, as well as in Croatia, Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, where a war crimes trial is held against a former Bosnian Presidency Member, Borislav Paravac, accused of having participated in a joint criminal enterprise, targeting the Bosniak and Croat civilian population in Doboj (Northern Bosnia) between May 1992 and the end of 1993.
The newsletter also contains an op-ed analysis on the recent conviction of Radovan Karadžić and whether his conviction impedes Ratko Mladić’s right to a fair trial.
U.S. Federal appeals judges have recently upheld a decision allowing the extradition of Azra Basic to Bosnia and Herzegovina, a Muslim Croatian woman accused of murder and torture during the 1992-1995 Bosnian War.
Basic had challenged a ruling by U.S. District Judge that said Basic could be deported to face trial in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Basic came to the United States as a refugee in 1994. She settled in Kentucky and became a naturalized citizen in 2007.
Basic’s attorney argued that a treaty does not allow extradition of U.S. citizens to Bosnia and that Bosnian authorities did not issue a proper arrest warrant for her.
The U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals disagreed, ruling that the treaty in place between the United States and Bosnia does not bar Basic from being extradited.
The Court of Appeals also said that while there was no warrant of arrest against Basic as such, other documents in the file constituted a valid warrant. Continue reading
It is with extreme sadness that we announce the death of our dear friend and colleague John R.W.D. Jones QC.
John was a pioneer in the field of international criminal law, an adventurer, a great friend and a loving and devoted father.
We will miss John terribly.
Our loving thoughts are with Misa, their wonderful boys and John’s family.
Last Friday, Léon Mugesera has been sentenced to life imprisonment in Rwanda for inciting his countrymen to commit genocide.
Mugesera was accused of having delivered a fiery speech in Rwanda in 1992 in which he suggested that members of the Tutsi ethnic group should be exterminated. His speech is considered to have been a trigger for the massacre of 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus in 1994.
Some excerpts from the speech were played repeatedly on Rwandan radio stations, including Radio Mille Collines.
Mugesera was a political adviser to the party of then president Juvenal Habyarimana. He fled Rwanda in 1992 settling with his family in Canada as a refugee and working as a lecturer in linguistics at Laval University.
In 1995, the Canadian government initiated extradition proceedings to send him back to Rwanda, where he was wanted for genocide. Mugesera was extradited in January 2012. His trial began in November 2013 in Kigali.
According to his lawyer, the Canadian government made “a big mistake” in not being more wary of the Rwandan government led by Paul Kagame, claiming that Mugesera did not get a fair trial and was doomed from the start.
“His speech was a very harsh one but it was not an incitement to murder or genocide or hatred,” his lawyer said. He added that Mugesera is a “great democrat” who could have become president of Rwanda.
Amnesty International issued a report this week calling on the Israeli authorities to end their long-standing attacks on Palestinian human rights defenders (HRDs) and halt the climate of intimidation of HRDs in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT).
According to the report, Israel is routinely violating Palestinians’ rights to freedom of expression and freedom of association in the OPT and are targeting HRDs, including by arbitrary arrest and detention, imprisonment, injury and torture. Israel authorities also are failing to protect HRDs from attacks by Israeli settlers and other extreme right wing activists, and in some cases they have been complicit in such attacks.
The report of Amnesty International lists a number of specific situations where human rights defenders have been intimidated, threatened by death, arbitrarily arrested and imprisoned.
In February and March 2016, a staff member and the director of Al-Haq, a prominent Palestinian human rights NGO, were subjected to a number of death threats. According to the report, these threats are directly connected to the organisation’s work with the International Criminal Court in The Hague.
Israeli ministers allegedly made calls alluding to threats, including of physical harm and deprivation of basic rights, against Omar Barghouti, a Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) activist, at an anti-Boycott Divestment and Sanction conference in Jerusalem on 28 March 2016. Continue reading
Today, the Paris Court of Appeal ruled to extradite Radomir Susjnar, a suspected Bosnian Serb paramilitary, to Bosnia-Herzegovina to face charges of crimes against humanity.
Bosnia-Herzegovina wants Susnjar to face accusations he was part of a Bosnian Serb paramilitary group that massacred 59 Bosnian Muslims in the city of Visegrad in June 1992.
Witnesses say Susnjar personally locked the people – most of them women, children or elderly – inside a house and set it on fire. All but eight of them perished.
He was arrested in the Paris region in April 2014.
The court’s ruling in favour of extradition on international principles was a relief to victims, who had called on the court not to set precedent they feared would allow war criminals to find a safe haven in France. Continue reading
This week, the Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals (MICT) launched its first online exhibition entitled “A Glimpse into the Archives”.
The purpose of this exhibition is to allow the general public to contextualize, access, and understand the value of the archives of the International Criminal Tribunals for Rwanda (ICTR) and for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), which are now in the custody of the Mechanism.
The exhibition features a selection of interesting items to illustrate the diversity of the records in the archives. The items include photographs of artefacts used as evidence in court, drawings made by witnesses, and an extract from a historic trial judgement.
The exhibition aims to create an interactive experience. Each image has descriptive details and links to databases where other records can be found.
This exhibition is an opportunity to reflect on the many facets these records have: they document the judicial process while also depicting specific events that are part of larger contexts. The archives also help make tangible the complexity of the events that took place in Rwanda and in the former Yugoslavia.
Today, the ICTY Prosecutor, Serge Brammertz stated that his Office will appeal the acquittal of Vojislav Šešelj.
The Office of the Prosecutor considers that there has been “a fundamental failure” by the Trial Chamber Majority to perform its judicial function and to properly adjudicate core aspects of the Prosecution’s case by, among other things, failing to consider large parts of the evidentiary record, making unreasonable and conflicting factual findings, or failing to properly apply the elements of modes of liability such as joint criminal enterprise and aiding and abetting in accordance with established case-law.
Moreover, the Prosecution explains that the Trial Chamber Majority unreasonably allowed for the possibility that criminal conduct was simply a lawful contribution to the war effort, despite the overwhelming body of evidence pointing against it. According to the Prosecution, this led the Trial Chamber Majority to unreasonably credit the possibility that: expelling civilians was a humanitarian gesture; that incendiary hate speech was simply morale boosting for the Serb forces; and that the deployment of ethnic cleansing forces was a measure to protect the Serb population.
Vojislav Šešelj, 61, had been charged with three counts of crimes against humanity and six of war crimes over ethnic cleansing in Croatia, Bosnia and the Serbian province of Vojvodina between August 1991 and September 1993.
The charges involved the forcible transfer of tens of thousands of civilians; torture, sexual assaults, beatings and other physical abuse of detained non-Serbs; the destruction of homes, religious sites, cultural institutions; and hate speech. Continue reading
William Ruto and Joshua Sang at the International Criminal Court (ICC)
Today, the Trial Chamber V(A) of the International Criminal Court (ICC) decided that the case against William Ruto and Joshua Sang is to be terminated.
The Chamber considered the requests of Mr Ruto and Mr Sang that the Chamber find that there is ‘no case to answer’, dismiss the charges against both accused and enter a judgment of acquittal.
On the basis of the evidence and arguments submitted to the Chamber, Presiding Judge Chile Eboe-Osuji and Judge Robert Fremr, as the majority, agreed that the charges are to be vacated and the accused are to be discharged. They provided separate reasons for this decision.
Judge Fremr found that there is no case for the accused to answer based on the fact that the Prosecution did not present sufficient evidence on which a reasonable Trial Chamber could convict the accused. Accordingly, he considered that there is no reason to call the Defence to bring their case or to prolong the proceedings any further.
Judge Eboe-Osuji, concurring with Judge Fremr’s evidential assessment, also vacated the charges and discharged the accused without prejudice to re-prosecution in the future. However, he declared a mistrial in the case, because it cannot be discounted that the weaknesses in the Prosecution case might be explained by the demonstrated incidence of tainting of the trial process by way of witness interference and political meddling that was reasonably likely to intimidate witnesses. In his opinion, Judge Eboe-Osuji also discussed several matters including reparations, immunities and elements of the “crimes against humanity” definition.
The majority of the Chamber also concluded that a judgment of acquittal was not the right outcome, but only vacation of the charges and discharge of the accused. The majority also agreed that there is no reason to re-characterise the charges. Continue reading