International Criminal Court (ICC)
DRC: ICC welcomes Bosco 'Terminator' Ntaganda's surrender.
The ICC has welcomed Congolese rebel leader Bosco Ntaganda's surrender to stand trial on war crimes charges. Known as "The Terminator", Gen Ntaganda surrendered to the US embassy in Rwanda after seven years on the run. He denies committing atrocities during the long-running conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The ICC issued an arrest warrant for Gen Ntaganda in 2006. He faces 10 counts of conscripting child soldiers, murder, and using rape as a weapon of war. This information has been confirmed by Rwandan Foreign Minister, Louise Mushikiwabo, after some Congolese media have reported that Ntaganda was in the neighboring country, which has Kinshasa repeatedly accused of supporting the rebels of the March 23 Movement (M-23), led by Ntaganda. (Europa Press, El País, 18/03/13; BBC, Aljazeera, 19/03/13)
KENYA: ICC approves delay of trial for Kenya presidential candidate.
Uhuru Kenyatta, indicted by the ICC for crimes against humanity, is declared the winner of Kenyan presidential elections. The ICC agreed to delay Kenyatta's trial and his co-defendant Francis Muthaura's until July 9. The two men are currently facing charges of crimes against humanity. ICC chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda agreed to delay the trial last month after Kenyatta's defense team argued that they needed more time to respond to evidence revealed to them at the last minute leading up to the trial. The charges against Kenyatta arise from involvement in the violence following the disputed elections in December 2007 in which 1,200 people were killed and thousands more displaced. Counsel for Kenyatta asked the ICC to drop the charges against his client for lack of evidence. Additionally, Bensouda, has withdrawn the charges against Kenyan Francis Muthaura, former ambassador to the UN, for alleged crimes against humanity and has said that the recent presidential elections have not had any influence in the decision and that it does not apply to any of the other defendants, including the elected president of Kenya, Uhuru Kenyatta, and William Rutto. (Jurist, 07/03/13, Hirondelle News, 10/03/13; Europa Press, 11/03/13; Jurist, 18/03/13)
MALI: Rebels call for ICC investigation.
Malian Tuareg rebels on Tuesday called on the ICC to investigate alleged war crimes committed by Malian government forces during the recent conflict. Azawad National Liberation Movement (MNLA in the French version) announced that it has asked the ICC to investigate the alleged use of torture, summary executions and forced disappearances while attempting to put down the rebellion. The Malian government has been accused of committing war crimes against people perceived to be collaborating with the Islamist rebels, including the Tuareg. (Jurist, 07/03/13)
SUDAN: Trial date for Banda and Jerbo in 2014.
The ICC has set May 5 next year as the start date for the trial of two former Sudanese rebel commanders, Abdallah Banda and Saleh Jerbo. The two are accused of war crimes in Darfur. In setting the date on Wednesday, the judges said time was needed to put all the necessary measures in place. These include witness protection and training for Zaghawa interpreters, as well as practical arrangements to allow the accused to stay in The Netherlands during their trial. Banda and Jerbo are charged in connection with an attack on the African Union Mission in Sudan (AMIS) at Haskanita on September 29, 2007. They have so far complied voluntarily with Court summons and no arrest warrants have been issued for them. This case is the fifth concerning Darfur, which was referred to the ICC by United Nations Security Council Resolution. (Hirondelle News, 08/03/13)
    Ad Hoc International Criminal Tribunals
CAMBODIA: Khmer Rouge senior leader Ieng Sary dies.
Former senior Khmer Rouge leader Ieng Sary has died, Cambodia's UN-backed court has announced. The 87-year-old was on trial for genocide committed under the 1975-79 Maoist regime at the time of his death. He served as the regime's foreign minister and was often the only point of contact between Cambodia's rulers and the outside world. He and three co-defendants were accused of leading a campaign of mass murder in which up to two million people died. (BBC and Europa Press, 14/03/13)
    Ordinary Justice and Traditional Justice Systems
ARGENTINA: Latin American justice will try those responsible for Operación Cóndor.
For the first time, Latin American justice will try those responsible for Operation Condor as a whole and the cooperation between the dictatorships of Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay, to persecute and eliminate opponents in the 70s and 80s. So far, only those responsible for four of the hundreds of victims of the Operation have been sentenced. The trial, which will take place in Buenos Aires, will examine the disappearance of 106 people, mostly Uruguayans (about 48) but also of a Peruvian, Chileans, Paraguayans, Bolivians and Argentinians, among which is the daughter of poet Juan Gelman, María Claudia García Irureta. The 25 defendants include the two former dictadors Jorge Videla (1976-1981) and Reynaldo Bignone (1982-1983), and only a foreigner, the Uruguayan former military Manuel Cordero, charged with the case of Garcia Irureta. Moreover, former de facto president Reynaldo Bignone is convicted to life sentence for 23 crimes in Campo de Mayo, one of the main clandestine detention and torture centres during the dictatorship. (El Pais, 05, 13/03/13)
BALKANS: Montenegro 'warlord' sentenced for crimes against humanity.
The 'warlord' Veselin Vlahovic Montenegrin, arrested in March 2010 in Alicante by Spanish police and extradited to Bosnia and Herzegovina in August of the same year, has been sentenced to 45 years in prison for crimes against humanity perpetrated in Sarajevo during the 1992-1995 war, as reported by the state news agency Bosnian FENA. Vlahovic, known as 'Batko', has been found guilty of the death of 31 people, the rape of at least 13 women and the torture and theft of dozens of non-Serb civilians in Grbavica and Vraca in Serb-occupied areas in Sarajevo in 1992, as stated by the presiding judge of the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Zoran Bozic. (Europa Press, 29/03/13)
COLOMBIA: Former Colombia lawmaker convicted for involvement in massacre.
César Pérez, Deputy to the Assembly of Antioquia, is found guilty for his involvement in a 1988 massacre that killed 43 people. César Pérez was convicted for allegedly financing the attack, which was reportedly carried out for political purposes. Negro Vladamir, one of the leaders of the attack, accused Pérez of orchestrating the massacre to gain political power in the town of Segovia. Pérez has not yet been sentenced but is expected to receive approximately 25-30 years. Moreover, the Public Prosecution Office has declared a crime against humanity the murder of La Opinión newspaper director, Colmenares Eustergio Baptista, at the hands of two men hired by the Ejército de Liberación Nacional (ELN), and argues that the crime fits the pattern of systematic and widespread killings of civilians that took place in Cucuta two decades ago. This confirms the applicability of the crime, and allows Baptista's relatives to take appropriate penal action at any time. (Jurist and All Africa, 07/03/13, Europa Press, 13/03/13, El Colombiano, 21/03/13)
GUATEMALA: Opening of the trial of Efraín Ríos Montt.
Navi Pillay, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, has declared that the start of the trial of former Guatemalan dictator Efrain Rios Montt is a sign of a long-awaited justice for the thousands of victims of gross human rights violations committed during the 36 years of armed conflict. It is the first time a former head of State is tried for genocide and crimes against humanity by national courts, praised Pillay, who has added that until recently, no one believed that a trial like this could take place in Guatemala. The High Commissioner has also said that the lawsuit, 30 years after the commission of crimes, should encourage victims of human rights violations worldwide. (El País and Europa Press, 19/03/13)
HAITI: Former Haiti dictator appears before court after fourth summons.
Former dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier, alias Baby Doc, appeared before a Haitian court, after previously rebuffing summonses for alleged human rights abuses from 1971-1986. The hearing marked the first time that the plaintiffs confronted Duvalier. The former dictator had ignored three previous summonses before his appearance in court. A judge told Duvalier that he would be jailed if he did not appear before the court after the fourth summons was issued. The lawyer for the plaintiffs criticized the previously rebuffed summonses as evidence of Haiti's failing justice system. The legal proceedings began with Duvalier's lawyer requesting that the proceedings take place behind closed doors. (Jurist, 01/03/13)
HOLLAND - RWANDA: Dutch court convicts Rwandan woman in first genocide trial.
A Dutch court on Thursday sentenced Yvonne Basebya, a woman of Rwandan origin who has acquired Dutch nationality, to six years and eight months in jail for incitement to genocide in her Gikondo neighbourhood of Kigali in 1994. Presiding judge René Elkerbout rejected all mitigating circumstances, saying that she had always had "this anti-Tutsi mentality" and had shown no sympathy for the survivors of the 1994 genocide. Neither had she shown any remorse since the trial started on October 22, 2012, he said. This is the first genocide trial to be held in a Dutch court. (Hirondelle News, 01/03/13)
LIBYA: Local court begins trial of Gaddafi era officials.
The trial of 40 former Libyan officials began Thursday in al-Zawiya. The charges include inciting the killing of protesters during the revolution, wasting public funds, embezzlement and abuse of power. The defendants committed these crimes as part of the former Gaddafi regime during the uprising in 2011. The date of the hearing has been postponed to April 11, 2013 to allow the parties to prepare. This is the latest in the process of prosecuting those responsible for the crimes committed by the Gaddafi regime following the uprising in Libya. Last February the ICC called on Libya to extradite former Gaddafi intelligence chief Abdullah al-Senussi. In January the ICC asked Libya to address reports that it planned to try Saif al-Islam Gaddafi and al-Senussi in domestic courts. In October 2012 Libyan government lawyers urged the ICC to allow the men to be tried in Libya and promised that the trial would be fair. Previously, in August, Saif al-Islam stated that he preferred to be tried by the ICC out of fear that Libya would not try him fairly. (Jurist, 07/03/13)
MEXICO: Former president Ernesto Zedillo files an appeal against a lawsuit for Acteal's massacre.
Ernesto Zedillo, Mexican president between 1994 and 2000, has filed an appeal in the federal court in Connecticut that handles a lawsuit filed by two of the victims of the massacre that killed 45 Indians in Acteal, Chiapas, in 1997, by requesting that the case be filed claiming diplomatic immunity. Victims have claimed about 38 million euros in compensation for the damages. The appeal further states that the plaintiffs' lawyers have lied in the pleadings presented in recent weeks to try to keep the case open as this has been accepted by the United States that considers it to be a crime against humanity. (Europa Press, 11/03/13)
NIGERIA: President rejects Boko Haram amnesty call.
Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan says his government cannot grant an amnesty to the militant Islamist group Boko Haram because it is not known who its members are or what they want. Muslim leader the Sultan of Sokoto recently suggested that an amnesty could help end violence. Boko Haram says its members are fighting to create an Islamic state in Nigeria's predominantly Muslim north. The group has been blamed for the deaths of some 1,400 people in central and northern Nigeria since 2010. (BBC, 08/03/13)
COLOMBIA: Victims of State crimes demand to mediate in peace talks between the Government of Colombia and the FARC rebels.
After the sixth round of negotiations between the government and the FARC in which, according to the parties, they have reached consensus on rural property, discussions start on political participation, the second item on the agenda. On the other hand, victims of State crimes decide to mediate in peace talks between the government of Colombia and the FARC rebels seeking to put an end to half a century of war. The demands of the victims to the parties, presented in a document, include deliberative and decisional involvement of their own representatives to the dialogue table installed in Havana and argue that everyone should punish the perpetrators of crimes. Franklin Castañeda, president of the Committee for Solidarity with Political Prisoners and spokesman for the Movement of Victims of State Crimes (Movice) has said that Colombian society must not only make demands to the FARC and that State criminals should not be pardoned. Additionally, a former Colombian lawmaker was found guilty of involvement in a 1988 massacre that killed 43 people. (Jurist, 07/03/13 and Periodismo Humano, 08/03/13)
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