ECCC: Second Ex-Khmer Rouge Official Charged in Case 004

On 27 March 2015, the International Co-Investigating Judge of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) charged former Khmer Rouge official Ao An, also known as Ta An, with crimes against humanity and premeditated homicide.

Ao An, aka Ta An, photographed in 2011. Photo Courtesy DC-CAM

Ao An, aka Ta An, photographed in 2011. Photo Courtesy DC-CAM

Ta An appeared in person at the court to hear the charges related to purges and executions at the crime sites of Kok Pring execution site, Tuol Beng security centre and Wat Au Trakuon security centre.

Ta An, the former deputy secretary of the Central Zone during the Democratic Kampuchea regime, is the second suspect charged in Case 004. Earlier this month, the UN-backed Khmer Rouge Tribunal charged former district commander Im Chaem in the same case. Continue reading

ICTR Prosecutor Manual on Referring International Criminal Cases to National Jurisdictions

“We are at a critical stage in the transition of international criminal justice. The primary responsibility for investigating and prosecuting international crimes no longer lies with ad hoc tribunals like the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR); rather that responsibility has shifted to national authorities.”

This is the first sentence of the foreword accompanying a manual released on 10 February by the Prosecutor of the ICTR and the Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals (MICT), Mr. Hassan Bubacar Jallow, sharing his office’s experience in securing the referral of ten genocide indictments to national jurisdictions for trial.

1998. The trial of Jean-Paul Akayesu begins. With this case, the ICTR becomes the first international tribunal to enter a judgement for genocide and the first to interpret the definition of genocide set forth in the 1948 Geneva Conventions. ©ICTR

1998. The trial of Jean-Paul Akayesu begins. With this case, the ICTR becomes the first international tribunal to enter a judgement for genocide and the first to interpret the definition of genocide set forth in the 1948 Geneva Conventions. ©ICTR

According to Mr. Jallow, the shift to primacy of national prosecutions is reflected in the Rome Statute’s principle of complementarity, as well as in the establishment of the MICT, which makes the referral of cases to national jurisdictions a priority in the completion of the ad hoc tribunals’ remaining work.

The 57-page long manual, “Complementarity In Action”, shares lessons learned from the ICTR Prosecutor’s referral of international criminal cases to national jurisdictions for trial. The Office of the Prosecutor’s (OTP) experiences provide useful lessons for other international courts and tribunals seeking to refer international criminal cases to national jurisdictions. They also provide valuable lessons for national jurisdictions seeking to establish their own ability to fairly prosecute international crimes at the domestic level. Continue reading

Bosnia: No Release until Retrial for War Crime Convicts

©AP/Press Association Images

Refugees from the eastern Bosnian enclave of Srebrenica wait for transportation on 12 July 1995 ©AP/Press Association Images

Bosnia’s constitutional court has ruled against the further release of war crimes convicts whose verdicts were quashed for misuse of criminal provisions. More than 20 war crimes cases were found to be invalid as it was ruled that the Bosnian criminal code was wrongly used at their trials, instead of the Yugoslav criminal code, which was in force at the time that the crimes were committed.

The retrials were ordered by the Bosnian Court after the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) in Strasbourg ruled in July 2013 that the Bosnian court used the wrong criminal code in Maktouf and Damjanovic. Following the ECtHR decision, several appeals were filed to the constitutional court, leading to the controversial release of convicts. Novak Djukic, one of these convicts originally sentenced to 20 years in prison for ordering an artillery strike on the town of Tuzla that killed 71 people, shortly absconded to Serbia after his release, therefore eluding from retrial.

As a result, the Bosnian court decided to block further release until retrials are completed, including the ones of Milorad Trbić, convicted of involvement in the Srebrenica genocide, and Ante Kovac, jailed for war crimes in Vitez in 1993.

Meddzida Kreso, the president of the Bosnian court, stated that the quashing of these verdicts was the biggest challenge for her institution over the past year because “the legal framework for the execution of imprisonment sentences and custody measures ceased to exist in the case of persons who were sentenced for the gravest violations of the international humanitarian laws”.

Ex-Liberian Rebel Commander Arrested in Switzerland

Yesterday the media reported that Switzerland has arrested an ex-Liberian rebel commander accused of participating in civilian massacres during the country’s first civil war in the 1990s.

Mandingoe fighters from ULIMO ©James Fasuekoi

Mandingoe fighters from ULIMO ©James Fasuekoi

Alieu Kosiah, a former rebel commander of the United Liberation Movement of Liberia for Democracy (ULIMO), was arrested in November 2014 for his alleged implication in civilian massacres committed between 1993 and 1995 in northwest Lofa County, Liberia.

Kosiah’s arrest makes Switzerland the second European country in recent months to have arrested a Liberian accused of atrocities during Liberia’s two civil wars. A few weeks earlier Martina Johnson, a NPFL Front Line Commander, was arrested in Belgium for her alleged role in wartime atrocities. Continue reading

New PhD Thesis – International Criminal Trials: A Normative Theory

Sergey Vasiliev PhdOn Friday 25 April 2014, Sergey Vasiliev was granted his PhD by the University of Amsterdam (UvA) cum laude. Dr Vasiliev’s doctorate is devoted to the trial in international criminal proceedings. It is now available in a book of extraordinary depth and quality, which is highly recommended.

Among the numerous works on international criminal procedure, there has been no study focusing on the international criminal trial as a socio-legal phenomenon and a phase of international criminal proceedings. The book seeks to cover this gap by systematically examining the nature and organization of trials conducted by the historical and contemporary international

and hybrid criminal tribunals from the Nuremberg Tribunal to the Special Tribunal for Lebanon.

The study posits international criminal trials as a distinct object of theoretical and legal inquiry. It combines the methodological, conceptual, comparative, and critical approaches to the subject-matter for the purpose of developing the normative theory of international criminal trials.