ICC Releases Suspects to Avoid Unreasonably Lengthy Pre-Trial Detention

by Léa Kulinowski

Aimé Kilolo, Jean-Jacques Mangenda and Jean-Pierre Bemba

Aimé Kilolo, Jean-Jacques Mangenda and Jean-Pierre Bemba

On 21 October 2014, Pre-Trial Chamber II of the International Criminal Court ordered the immediate release of four out of the five suspects in the case of Prosecutor v. Bemba, Kilolo, Mangenda, Babala and Arido. Mr. Bemba, who has been held in detention since July 2008 as a result of charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity, remains detained.

The suspects are charged with offences against the administration of justice under Article 70 of the Statute – the first of its kind before the ICC – including giving false testimony, knowingly presenting false/forged evidence and corruptly influencing witnesses. The penalty for these offences goes from a fine to a maximum of five years of imprisonment.

When granting the interim release, the Single Judge emphasised the protection against unreasonable detention as per Article 60 (4) of the Statute and noted the advanced stage of the proceedings as well as the various delays, holding that “the reasonableness of the duration of the detention has to be balanced inter alia against the statutory penalties applicable to the offences at stake in these proceedings and that, accordingly, the further extension of the period of the pre-trial detention would result in making its duration disproportionate”. Even though the duration of the suspects’ detention was not due to the Prosecutor’s inexcusable delay, the Single Judge found that the Pre-Trial Chamber was under an independent obligation to ensure that that a person is not unreasonably detained prior to trial under Article 60 (4) of the Statute. Continue reading

ICC Prosecutor Reopens Examination of Detainee Abuse in Iraq

(c) Ian Waldie/Getty Images

The Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Fatou Bensouda, today reopened the preliminary examination of the situation in Iraq following the submission of a 250-page dossier of new information in January by the European Centre for Constitutional and Human Rights and Public Interest Lawyers. Philip Shiner, human rights solicitor at Public Interest Lawyers, claims that the dossier reveals evidence of more than 400 cases of mistreatment or killings by members of the UK armed forces in Iraq. Former Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon and former Armed Forces Minister Adam Ingram are named in the file.

According to the OTP’s Policy Paper, the purpose of a preliminary examination is to

“collect all relevant information necessary to reach a fully informed determination of whether there is a reasonable basis to proceed with an investigation.”

Under Article 53(1) of the Rome Statute, the Prosecutor will examine issues of jurisdiction (temporal, material, and either territorial or personal jurisdiction); admissibility (complementarity and gravity); and the interests of justice in order to determine whether there is a reasonable basis to proceed.

Andrew Cayley QC, director of the Service Prosecuting Authority (SPA), has indicated that the ICC may run into issues of admissibility. The ICC’s regime is complementary to that of domestic systems; it may only intervene where a State is unable or unwilling genuinely to carry out investigation or prosecution. The Iraq Historic Allegations Team was set up in 2010 “to review and investigate allegations of abuse of Iraqi civilians by UK armed forces personnel in Iraq during the period of 2003 to July 2009.” Where investigations conclude that there is sufficiently credible evidence, cases can be referred to the SPA for prosecution. Continue reading