ICL Media Review: Charles Taylor's ex-wife pleads not guilty in UK trial on torture in Liberia

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Monday, October 22, 2018 - 11:25

By ICL Media Review

In this week's review, news about the ICC Prosecutor’s statement on planned evictions in Palestine, the closure of Lebanon tribunal contempt case, Karadzic’s request on the removal of an appeals judge, launch of Gambia’s Truth Commission and the not guilty plea in Charles Taylor’s ex-wife case in the UK and more:

Charles Taylor's ex-wife pleads not guilty in UK trial on torture in Liberia

Agnes Taylor, ex-wife of former Liberian President Charles Taylor has pled not guilty to several charges of torture brought against her in the United Kingdom. Ms. Taylor is accused of having committed the offences between 1989 and 1991, during Sierra Leone’s 7 year long civil war. The charges include claims of Ms. Taylor forcing a pastor’s wife to witness the murder of her two children, inflicting severe pain and suffering on a 13-year old child, and conspiracy to commit torture through acts of rape perpetrated by the forces of the National Patriotic Front of Liberia. Ms Taylor is being tried in the UK as the UK has accepted universal jurisdiction laws against the crime of torture. Ms. Taylor’s ex-husband, Charles Taylor, is currently serving a 50-year sentence for Crimes against Humanity and War Crimes set down by the Special Court for Sierra Leone. (BBC)

The Gambia launches truth commission

On 15 October, the eleven members of the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission in the Gambia were formally sworn in.  The Commission has been established to investigate executions, disappearances, torture, rape and other crimes allegedly perpetuated under former dictator Yahya Jammeh. The Commission will hold witness hearings relating to the 22 years of Jammeh’s rule with the goal of ultimately prosecuting those responsible. Its members are drawn from all the country’s major regions, its five main ethnic groups and two religions, led by a retired UN diplomat, Lamin Sise. Mr Jammeh was ousted in 2016 after his electoral defeat to Adama Barrow. Mr Jammeh initially refused to step down but was forced to leave and is now in self-imposed exile in Equatorial Guinea. President Barrow has said that any decision to extradite Mr Jammeh from the country would wait until after the Commission had completed its work. (Yahoo)

ICC Prosecutor’s statement on the Situation in Palestine concerning planned eviction of Khan al-Ahmar

In a public statement released on 17 October, the ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda voiced concerns regarding the planned destruction of the Khan al-Ahmar village and eviction of the Bedouin community in the area. She noted that “it bears recalling, as a general matter, that extensive destruction of property without military necessity and population transfers in an occupied territory constitute war crimes under the Rome Statute”.  She expressed alarm at “the continued violence, perpetrated by actors on both sides, at the Gaza border with Israel” and reminded the parties that the ICC will continue monitoring the developments in the West Bank. Israel’s Supreme Court authorised demolition of Khan al-Ahmar in September 2018. It is a Bedouin village located close to Jerusalem, in the Oslo Accord-agreed “Area C” of the West Bank. The UN, the EU and numerous internationally-recognised NGOs have condemned the action. Since 16 January 2015, the ICC Prosecutor has been conducting a preliminary examination into alleged crimes committed in Occupied Palestinian Territory including East Jerusalem. Palestine, which is a State Party to the Rome Statute, referred any alleged crimes committed since 13 June 2014 “with no end date” to the ICC on 22 May 2018. (ICC Press Release)

The Lebanon tribunal contempt case closed

Judge Nicola Lettieri, the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) Contempt Judge, announced that case 14-06 involving Ibrahim Al-Amin was closed after the STL Registrar received the outstanding payment of the EUR 20,000 fine on 14 August 2018. Mr Al-Amin paid the fine imposed on him  in the sentencing order of 26 August 2016. It had ordered the payment to be made by 30 September 2016. Upon closing the case, the judge made public documents related to the enforcement proceedings against Mr Al-Amin that were initially confidential. However, the enforcement of the EUR 6000 fine against Akhbar Beirut S.A.L newspaper agency is outstanding. The proceedings under Rule 60 (A) bis of the STL Rules of Procedure and Evidence against Ibrahim Al-Amin and Akhbar Beirut S.A.L commenced on 24 February 2016. Both were charged with contempt and obstruction of justice in relation to media reports published on Akhbar newspaper’s English and Arabic websites in January 2016 containing information about allegedly confidential STL witnesses in the ongoing Ayyash et al case. The articles were attributed to Mr Al-Amin as the editor.  Mr Al-Amin and Akhbar Beirut S.A.L were found guilty of one count of knowingly and willfully interfering with the administration of justice on 15 July 2016. The sentencing order followed on 26 August 2016. Neither party appealed. (STL Press Release)

Karadzic defence files motion to remove trial judge

On 15 October, Radovan Karadzic called for Judge William Sekule to be removed from the appeal process in his trial at the Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals (MICT) due to allegations of bias. Mr Karadzic’s lawyers argue that as Judge Sekule had previously sat on other trials relating to the genocide at Srebrenica, he had therefore rendered conclusions relating to evidence that was the subject of appeal in the present case. Another judge, Theodor Meron, who is President of the MICT, had withdrawn from the case last month after Mr Karadzic’s defence team had accused him of bias on similar grounds. The defence motion additionally contends that Judge Meron has still not fully withdrawn himself from the case, as he was responsible for appointing his own replacement, Judge Ivo Nelson de Caires Batista Rosa. Mr Karadzic is a former Bosnian Serb political leader who was convicted of genocide in Srebrenica and several other municipalities, the persecution of Bosniaks and Croats throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina, terrorising the population of Sarajevo and taking UN peacekeepers hostage. He was initially sentenced on 24 March 2016 to 40 years imprisonment. The Appeal hearings took place on 23 and 24 April 2018. In their submissions, Mr Karadzic’s lawyers request that the appeal deliberations be started anew, but contend that a fresh appeal hearing is not required. (Balkan InsightMICT Court Records)

Lebanon tribunal Judge Re proposes amendment to Rule 57 on conflicts of interest and the Defence Office

On 11 October, Judge David Re of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon  (STL) notified the Parties and Legal Representatives of Victims in the Ayyash et al. (STL-11-01) case that he had proposed an amendment to Rule 57 of the Special Tribunal’s Rules of Procedure and Evidence titled  ‘Functions of the Head of Defence Office’ to the Special Tribunal’s Rules Committee. The need for such an amendment arose out of conflicts identified in the role the new Head of Defence Office,  Ms Dorothee Le Fraper du Hellen. On 24 August 2018, Ms Le Fraper du Hellen delegated certain functions relating to oversight of effective legal representation to her Deputy. This  delegation was later revoked following a  memorandum from Judge Re on 31 August 2018 pointing out that delegating to her Deputy the task of monitoring her superior’s performance constituted an untenable conflict of interest.  The proposed  amendment would insert a new Rule that provides a mechanism to deal with potential or actual conflicts of interest that may arise in the Defence Office, specifically by appointing ” a neutral third party, such as an amicus curiae, to exercise the functions of the Head of Defence Office in all matters affected by the conflict of interest”. The proposed amendment is also independent from any ‘alternative mechanism’ to deal with conflicts which was promised by the Head of Defence office on 1 October 2018, the details of which are expected to be submitted to the trial chamber by 15 October 2018. (STL TC Notification)

MICT OTP and ICRC sign MOU for cooperation on missing persons searches

On 11 October, Prosecutor Serge Brammertz of the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) at The International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (MICT) and Vice-President of Gilles Carbonnier of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in Geneva to promote their cooperation in the search for persons still missing from the conflicts in the former Yugoslavia. According to the MoU cooperation and assistance will include accessing, analysing and transmitting for action information from the OTP evidence collection and other sources. The MoU arises within the context of the ICRC’s five-year strategy on missing persons (2018–2022) to increase the capacities of national actors to deal with residual caseloads and clarify the fate and whereabouts of as many missing persons as possible. The parties stated that they would be using their joint efforts to continue and strengthen their assistance to local authorities in the countries of the former Yugoslavia. (IRMCT)

Bosnia indicts Bosnian Serb soldier on CAH in 1992

A former Bosnian Serb Army soldier, Zoran Adamovic, was indicted for crimes against humanity stemming from his alleged participation in the murder, forced disappearance, unlawful arrest, abuse and wounding of Bosniaks and Croats in the Kljuc area in the summer of 1992 by Bosnian state court on 11 October 2018. (Balkan Insight)

Photos: Agnes Reeves Taylor, ICTY/Flickr and http://www.un.org/

ICL Media Review is an independent UK 'Small Charity' which provides a daily publication on updates and developments in International Criminal Law and Human Rights Law.  Since 2015, ICLMR has partnered with Justice Hub to provide the content for each Friday's edition of ICJ Media Review

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