General Zdravko Tolimir Passed Away in Jail

Zdravko TolimirZdravko Tolimir passed away last night in the United Nations Detention Unit in The Hague.

In April last year, the Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) upheld the Trial Chamber’s convictions and found Tolimir, the former intelligence chief of the Bosnian Serb Army’s Main Headquarters, guilty of involvement in genocide against thousands of Bosniak men and boys from Srebrenica after the UN-protected ‘safe area’ was overrun by Bosnian Serb forces in July 1995.

Gen Zdravko Tolimir, 67, was given a life term in jail. The cause of his death has not yet been made public.

US Judge Approves Extradition to Spain of Salvadoran War Crimes Suspect

Inocente Orlando Montano MoralesA United States Federal judge approved Spanish extradition requests on Friday ordering the deportation to Spain of Inocente Orlando Montano Morales, a former Salvadoran colonel, where he will stand trial for his role in planning the murders of six Jesuit priests and two women during El Salvador’s civil war in 1989. Most of the priests were originally from Spain.

“In short, the government’s evidence shows (Montano) was a decision-maker and member of a group of officers who collectively ordered the unlawful killings of Jesuit priests,” Federal magistrate judge Kimberly Swank wrote.

The judge also cited evidence that Montano provided information to the killers, including the location of a priest who was considered a primary target, then later threatened a witness’ wife to help conceal the crime. Montano served as the country’s vice-minister of public security and was part of an inner circle of powerful military officers.

The judge ordered that US marshals take custody of Montano so he can be turned over to Spain, pending final approval by the State Department.

The civil war left 75,000 dead and 8,000 more disappeared, the vast majority of whom were victims of the military regime’s “dirty war” against political opponents, leftist activists, and other community organizers, including many religious leaders.

The Jesuits had a long-standing affiliation with liberation theology, and government officials suspected the priests of sympathizing with the insurgency.

To date, the majority of individuals responsible for the widespread human rights abuses committed during the civil war have not been held accountable for their crimes.

ICC Judges Authorize Investigation Into Georgia’s 2008 War

Georgian Troops South Ossetia 2008

Georgian Troops in South Ossetia in 2008

Today, Pre-Trial Chamber I of the International Criminal Court (ICC) authorised the Prosecutor to proceed with an investigation for war crimes and crimes against humanity allegedly committed in and around South Ossetia, Georgia, between 1 July and 10 October 2008.

On 13 October 2015, the ICC Prosecutor submitted her “Request for authorisation of an investigation pursuant to article 15” of the Rome Statute, asking for authorization from Pre-Trial Chamber I to proceed with an investigation into the situation in Georgia.

After examining the request and the supporting material, the Chamber concluded that there is a reasonable basis to believe that crimes within the ICC’s jurisdiction have been committed in the situation in Georgia.

Such crimes include crimes against humanity, such as murder, forcible transfer of population and persecution, and war crimes, such as attacks against the civilian population, wilful killing, intentionally directing attacks against peacekeepers, destruction of property and pillaging allegedly committed in the context of an international armed conflict between 1 July and 10 October 2008.

The Chamber also found that potential cases arising out of the situation would be admissible before the Court and that there are no substantial reasons to believe that an investigation would not serve the interests of justice taking into account the gravity of the crimes and the interests of victims.

In a statement following the Pre-Trial Chamber’s decision, the ICC Prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, said that the timing of the Prosecution request for authorization of an investigation into the situation in Georgia was determined by the pace, and eventually, lack of national proceedings. Until recently, the competent national authorities of both Georgia and Russia were engaged in conducting investigations. However, last year, relevant national proceedings in Georgia were indefinitely suspended, which led to the Prosecution’s request for authorization to investigate.

The Office of the Prosecutor continues to monitor relevant proceedings in Russia, which are still on-going.

UK: Inquiries Dropped into Alleged Unlawful Killings by Iraq Veterans

UK Soldiers IraqUK Officials have decided to drop investigations into almost 60 claims of unlawful killings by UK soldiers who served in Iraq.

The Iraq Historic Allegations Team (IHAT), set up in 2010 to examine claims of murder, abuse and torture during the Iraq war, has decided not to proceed in 57 cases, the Ministry of Defence has confirmed. A further case was stopped by the military’s service prosecuting authority.

Conservative MP Richard Benyon said facing such claims constitute “an intolerable burden for people who have served their country well, knowing they’re innocent.”

However, Lt Col Nicholas Mercer, the army’s former chief legal adviser in Iraq, has criticised the crackdown on legal claims against Iraq veterans. He said the claims were not false and raised issues of “very high importance”, including the abuse of detainees in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Mercer pointed out that the government has paid out £20m for 326 cases. “Anyone who has fought the Ministry of Defence knows they don’t pay out for nothing. So there are 326 substantiated claims at a cost of £20m, and almost no criminal proceedings to accompany it. You have to ask why,” he said.

UN Whistleblower Cleared of Wrongdoing for Revealing Abuse in Central African Republic

Anders Kompass, representante del Alto C

Anders Kompass, the director of field operations for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights

Anders Kompass, the UN whistleblower who exposed the sexual abuse of children by peacekeepers in Central African Republic, has been completely exonerated after an internal investigation.

Kompass, the director of field operations for the office of the high commissioner for human rights in Geneva, leaked an internal UN report on the alleged sexual abuse of children by French troops in Central African Republic (CAR) to French prosecutors.

Kompass stated that he informed his boss – the deputy high commissioner – that he had leaked the report in order for the French to mount an investigation. The UN disputed this, insisting that he had breached protocols by sharing a secret internal document.

On 17 April 2015, he was suspended by the high commissioner for human rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, and put under investigation for leaking confidential information.

It’s only a few days ago that Kompass was informed in a letter that the internal investigation, run by the Office of Internal Oversight (OIOS), had cleared him of all charges. Continue reading

Kosovo Court to Open in The Hague

Kosovo WarA new special court will be set up in The Hague to try those responsible for serious crimes committed in Kosovo during the 1999-2000 war, the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs reported yesterday.

The Kosovo Relocated Specialist Judicial Institution, which is the official name of the court, will try crimes allegedly committed by members of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) against ethnic minorities and political opponents.

The crimes include illegal trafficking of prisoners’ organs and other serious crimes, as indicated in a 2011 report from the Council of Europe.

The Court will apply Kosovan national law and it is therefore not an international tribunal, but a national court that administers justice outside Kosovo. However, its judges will be international.

The decision to locate the court in The Hague was made following consultation between the EU and the Kosovan and Dutch authorities. Parliament in Kosovo approved the creation of the tribunal last year.

The issue is a sensitive issue in Kosovo as some of the possible suspects may be seen by sections of Kosovan society as freedom fighters, and witnesses may feel threatened in Kosovo. Moreover, some of the possible suspects may include individuals currently in the Kosovo government.

The Netherlands indicated that it believes it has a special responsibility to offer the court a home as the host country of a number of international and other special criminal courts and tribunals.

It is expected that the Court will officially open later this year. The Court will initially be based in a temporary location but will eventually be housed at the former building of EUROPOL.

ICTY: Retrial of Jovica Stanišić and Franko Simatović

Jovica Stanišić and Franko SimatovićThe Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), quashed the Trial Chamber’s decision to acquit Jovica Stanišić, formerly Deputy Chief and Chief of the State Security Service (SDB) of the Ministry of Interior of the Republic of Serbia, and Franko Simatović, formerly Deputy Chief of the Second Administration of the Serbian SDB and special advisor in the SDB. The Appeals Chamber ordered that Stanišić and Simatović be retried on all counts of the indictment.

In the indictment, the Prosecution alleged that between April 1991 and 31 December 1995, Stanišić and Simatović participated in a joint criminal enterprise (JCE) whose purpose was the forcible and permanent removal of the majority of non-Serbs, principally Croats, Bosnian Muslims, and Bosnian Croats from large areas of Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. The indictment alleged that the JCE involved the commission of murder and crimes against humanity. Stanišić and Simatović were also charged with having planned, ordered and/or otherwise aided and abetted in the planning, preparation and/or execution of the crimes alleged in the indictment.

On 30 May 2013, the Trial Chamber found that many of the crimes alleged in the indictment were indeed perpetrated by various Serb Forces. However, the Trial Chamber found neither Stanišić nor Simatović responsible for committing these crimes through participation in a JCE as it found that it was not established beyond reasonable doubt that they possessed the requisite intent to further the common criminal purpose. The Trial Chamber also found that it was not proven beyond reasonable doubt that Stanišić or Simatović planned or ordered these crimes and, by majority, that they aided and abetted these crimes. Based on the above, the Trial Chamber, by majority, acquitted Stanišić and Simatović under all counts of the indictment.

As a consequence of the Appeals Chamber’s Judgement, the detention of Stanišić and Simatović was ordered at the United Nations Detention Unit in The Hague.

ICTR Delivers its Final Appeal Judgment

The Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) delivered its judgment of the appeals in the trial of The Prosecutor vs. Nyiramasuhuko et al. (Butare Case) on the 14th of December in the Courtroom of the ICTR in Arusha, Tanzania.

ictrThis is the final judgment issued by the Tribunal, which was established by the UN Security Council in 1994 with the mandate to try those responsible for genocide and other serious violations of international humanitarian law committed in the territory of Rwanda and neighbouring States, between 1 January 1994 and 31 December 1994.

The appeal was lodged by Pauline Nyiramasuhuko, Arsène Shalom Ntahobali, Sylvain Nsabimana, Alphonse Nteziryayo, Joseph Kanyabashi, Élie Ndayambaje, and the Prosecution. The six accused in the case were, on 24 June 2011, variously convicted of crimes of genocide, conspiracy to commit genocide, incitement to commit genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes for their role in crimes committed against Tutsis during the 1994 genocide. Continue reading

Naser Orić Will Face Trial in Bosnia

Naser OricThe United Nations Mechanisms for International Criminal Tribunals (MICT) has rejected a request from former Bosnian Army General Naser Orić’s lawyers to order the Bosnian state court to stop the case against him because he has already been acquitted of the charges by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY).

The lawyers argued that Orić cannot stand trial for the same crimes twice.

Judge Liu Daqun said in his decision that Orić was acquitted by the ICTY of command responsibility for the killings of one Serb at the Srebrenica police station and six others in the local municipality building.

However the charges in Bosnia allege he personally killed one Serb in the village of Zalazje and took part in the killings of two other Serbs in Bratunac along with another Bosnian Army fighter.

“I note that in the present case, the murder charges in the Bosnian indictment fundamentally differ from the murder charges in the Hague indictment with respect to the alleged victims and the nature, time and location of the alleged crime,” said the judge.

The Bosnian court recently said that Orić’s trial will open once the MICT reaches its decision.

Rwanda Genocide: Arrest of Ladislas Ntaganzwa

Ladisla NtaganzwaOne of the last suspects wanted for alleged involvement in the 1994 Rwandan genocide, Ladislas Ntaganzwa, has been arrested in Democratic Republic of Congo.

Ladislas Ntaganzwa, 53, is accused of organising mass rapes and the massacre of thousands.

He was one of nine suspects still wanted by the United Nations for their alleged role in the genocide, which left about 800,000 people dead. The others are still at large.

The genocide saw militias from the majority Hutu ethnic group killing Tutsis and moderate Hutus.

The indictment of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) describes his involvement in 1994 in the killing of more than 20,000 Tutsis between 14 and 18 April.

It says he “substantially participated in the planning, preparation and execution of the massacre”.

He told a group including Hutu civilians to surround Cyahinda parish, in southern Rwanda, “so that no Tutsis could escape and told them to kill Tutsis”, the indictment adds.

The ICTR has transferred his case to Rwanda.