Ethiopia: After Years on the Run, Eshetu Alemu Will Face Trial

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Door-to-door searches by Red Terror Troops to hunt down opposition members

After years on the run to evade justice, a member of former Ethiopian ruler Mengistu Haile Mariam’s Government faces trial for his role in the 1970s genocide in the country.

Eshetu Alemu’s trial began in The Hague on 21 November 2016.

Eshetu Alemu is brought to trial for war crimes committed in Ethiopia during the Mengistu era in Gojjam Province. This case is the result of a year-long investigation. Even if Ethiopia has requested extradition there is no treaty to that effect.

Eshetu Alemu has Ethiopian origin but also holds the Dutch nationality. He was serving as a member of the Provisional Military Administrative Council during the reign of the Derg, the Coordinating Committee of the Armed Forces, Police, and Territorial Army that ruled Ethiopia from 1974 to 1987 and which elected Mengistu Haile Mariam’s as its chairman.

He has already been convicted and sentenced to death in absentia in Ethiopia on December 12, 2006 by the Derg-Tribunal in its 12 years ‘Red Terror’ trials, during which former President Mengistu was also convicted for genocide. Eshetu Alemu was among the dozens of the dreaded council’s members who fled into exile. Continue reading

Hissene Habre’s Trial Suspended Until September

BEL<HISSEIN HABRE EN CONFERENCE DE PRESS  E A LA CEEToday, the trial of Chad’s former ruler Hissene Habre was suspended until September after the court named new lawyers because his defense team shunned the session.

The session was suspended after a few minutes when his lawyers did not show and the presiding judge appointed three lawyers to represent him. The new lawyers were given 45 days to prepare and the trial is due to resume on September 7.

The first day of the trial had been suspended after Habre started shouting slogans against the court and had to be forcibly removed.

Habre, who has refused to recognize the Extraordinary African Chambers trying him in Senegal, had to be forced to appear at the second day of the trial.

William Bourdon, a lawyer for the victims, said Habre’s refusal to cooperate with the court meant he had effectively taken the proceeding hostages. “He is spitting on the Extraordinary African Chambers,” Bourdon said.

Habre, who faces charges of war crimes, torture and crimes against humanity, could face a maximum of life in prison.

The Extraordinary African Chambers, an internationally backed court, was set up by Senegal and the African Union in February 2013 to prosecute “the person or persons most responsible” for international crimes committed in Chad during Habré’s eight-year rule.

After a 19-month investigation, a four-judge panel revealed that there was sufficient evidence that serious breaches of international law were committed during Habré’s presidency, which lasted from 1982 to 1990.

According to a 1992 Chadian Truth Commission, Habré’s government was responsible for conducting 40,000 political murders and systematically torturing more than 20,000. The government periodically targeted various ethnic groups such as the Hadjerai and the Zaghawa, killing and arresting group members en masse when it was perceived that their leaders posed a threat to Habré’s rule.

Kenya President Requests Excusal from ICC Trial

President Kenyatta (c) AP

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta (c) AP

Yesterday, the defence team for Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta filed a request before a Trial Chamber of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to excuse the Kenyan President from attending in person a Status Conference scheduled for 8 October 2014. In the “urgent request”, lawyers for Kenyatta explain that his position as President of the East African Community requires him to chair a regional summit in Kampala, Uganda on the day in question. The meeting is to address economic development and regional security issues.

The request was filed pursuant to Rule 134 quater of the ICC’s Rules of Procedure and Evidence, which states that an accused subject to a summons to appear (as President Kenyatta is) may request excusal from attendance at trial when mandated “to fulfil extraordinary public duties.” The Trial Chamber shall grant the request when it considers excusal to be in the interests of justice and provided that the rights of the accused are fully ensured.

The rule is a recent amendment to the Rules of Procedure, which was adopted by the Assembly of States Parties in November 2013 following a request by the African Union.

President Kenyatta is charged with crimes against humanity perpetrated during the post-electoral violence in 2007. The start date of his trial has been postponed on numerous occasions amidst Prosecution complaints that the Kenyan Government has failed to disclose requested documents.

UK: Secret Terror Trial Will be Held Partially in Public

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The Court of Appeal in the Royal Courts of Justice (c) Graham Turner/The Guardian

Following the decision of the Court of Appeal delivered today, the secret terror trial of defendants AB and CD will be held in public.

The order was initially made by Mr Justice Nicol to grant the defendants anonymity and to exclude the public from the entirety of the trial. The Crown Prosecution Service had requested the unprecedented closed proceedings on the grounds that the case involved national security considerations.

In today’s ruling, the Court of Appeal lifted the anonymity order and identified the defendants as Erol Incedal (AB) and Mounir Rarmoul-Bouhadjar (CD). Both defendants are charged with possession of bomb making instructions; Incedal is further charged with preparing acts of terrorism, Rarmoul-Bouhadjar is further charged with an offence under the Identity Documents Act.

The Court also ordered that parts of the trial could be heard in public, including the swearing in of the jury, reading of the charges to the jury, and parts of the judge’s introductory remarks and of the Prosecution opening speech. In addition, a few accredited journalists will be entitled to hear the entirety of the proceedings, with the exception of a few very sensitive parts.

Lord Justice Gross expressed “concern” at the effect that holding the trial entirely in camera and granting the defendants anonymity would have on the fundamental principle of open justice. He did, however, state that the case was an “exceptional” one:

” We are persuaded on the evidence before us that there is a significant risk – at the very least a serious possibility – that the administration of justice would be frustrated were the trial to be conducted in open court … In our judgment, as a matter of necessity, the core of the trial must be heard in camera.”

The trial is set to commence on 16 June at the Old Bailey.

Gaddafi Brothers’ Trial Begins in Libya

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Saif al-Islam Gaddafi after his capture in 2011 (c) The Guardian

The trial of Saif al-Islam and Saadi Gaddafi, sons of deposed Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi, begins today in Tripoli. The brothers are accused of coordinating a campaign to murder, torture, and bombard civilians during the Libyan civil war in 2011. They are also accused of plundering state resources in order to fund their extravagant lifestyles.

They are being tried alongside Abdullah al-Senussi, the former intelligence chief to Muammar Gaddafi, as well as two former prime ministers and 34 senior officials of the old regime.

Security concerns have caused the trial to be moved to the maximum security Al Hadba prison. Yet, when the trial commences, Saif al-Islam will not be present as the rebel militias responsible for his detention in Zintan province continue to refuse to hand him over. He will be tried instead by video link.

Both Saif al-Islam Gaddafi and Abdullah al-Senussi are the subject of proceedings before the International Criminal Court. In May 2013, judges ruled that Saif al-Islam should be surrendered to The Hague but in October 2013, found that Libya is fit to try al-Senussi for themselves. The latter decision is being appealed by defence counsel for Mr al-Senussi.

ICC: Kenyatta Trial Adjourned until October

President Uhuru Kenyatta (c) EPA

On 31 March 2014, the Trial Chamber of the International Criminal Court (ICC) adjourned the trial of Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta until 7 October 2014.

The purpose of the adjournment is to give the Government of Kenya an opportunity to comply with a cooperation request by the Prosecution to hand over financial and other documents related to President Kenyatta. The records are allegedly relevant to proving that President Kenyatta financed the crimes with which he is charged.

The Prosecution had initially requested these documents from the Kenyan Government in April 2012 without success. The Government argued that the Prosecutor has no authority to make such a request, under either the Statute and the Rules of the Court or Kenyan domestic law.

In

its decision, the Trial Chamber confirmed that the Prosecutor does have an independent authority to make such a cooperation request under Article 93(1) of the Rome Statute. It deferred consideration of the Prosecution request for a finding of non-compliance by the Kenyan Government until after the expiration of the adjournment period.

President Kenyatta is charged with crimes against humanity allegedly committed during the post-electoral violence in Kenya in 2007-2008.