ICL Media Review: France issues arrest warrants for Syrian officials

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Saturday, November 10, 2018 - 09:34

By ICL Media Review

In this week's review, news about the conclusion of the Dutch Government’s investigation into Praljak’s suicide, a joint UN Report on mass graves found in former ISIL territory, Bensouda’s statement on Libya, a French arrest warrant against Syrian officials and more

France issues arrest warrants for Syrian officials

French prosecutors have issued international arrest warrants for three Syrian intelligence and government officials for alleged involvement in torture, forced disappearances, crimes against humanity and war crimes. The warrant targets three senior officials in the Assad regime: security chief Ali Mamlouk, head of Airforce Intelligence Jamil Hassan, and Abdel Salam Mahmoud, who is alleged to be in charge a detention facility at Mezzeh military airport in Damascus. The warrants are the latest development in a long running case concerning the disappearance of two French-Syrian nationals, Mazen Dabbagh and his son Patrick Dabbagh, in 2013. One of the officials, Jamil Hassan, is also the subject of a German arrest warrant. Germany aims to prosecute him based on universal jurisdiction. (Reuters)

An investigation into Praljak's suicide at ICTY concludes without finding crimes occurred

On 29 November 2017, Slobodan Praljak died after drinking poison in the ICTY courtroom, immediately after he was sentenced.  An investigation by the Dutch Government examined his death and considered two possible violations of Dutch law.  This included, first, whether the poison was a prohibited substance under the Medicines Act and, second, whether Praljak had assistance in committing suicide. An announcement made by the Government on 2 November stated that the investigation has concluded, and it was found that neither crime was established. The question of how Praljak obtained the poison remains unresolved, however evidence was found indicating that Praljak had been considering suicide for some time.  The investigation by the Dutch Government followed an earlier examination of the circumstances of Praljak’s death which was released in December 2017 by the ICTY Registry.  (Openbaar Ministerie, ICTY Registry Report)

UN Claims 200+ Mass Graves Found in Former ISIL Territory in Iraq

A joint report was released on 6 November by the United Nations mission to Iraq and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, and has documented evidence of over 200 mass graves have been found in Iraqi provinces formerly controlled by ISIL, including in the governorates of Ninewa, Kirkuk, Salah al-Din and Anbar located in the northern and western parts of the country.  The Report states that the mass graves could “potentially contain critical forensic material to assist in the identification of victims and to build an understanding of the scale of crimes that occurred,” and that ““Evidence gathered from these sites will be central to ensuring credible investigations, prosecutions and convictions in accordance with international due process standards.”   The Report also preliminarily found that ISIL’s actions “may amount to war crimes, crimes against humanity, and possible genocide”, as the deaths occurred in the context of systematic and widespread violence.  (ReportUN Press ReleaseNew York Times)

The trial of a former Nazi SS Guard Begins in Germany

A former SS guard at the Nazi’s Stutthof camp in Poland is being tried in Germany on hundreds of charges of accessory to murder. Though there is no evidence linking him to any specific crimes, Germany’s highest court of appeal has previously held that being a death camp guard is sufficient basis for a conviction. While Stutthof was a concentration camp rather than a death camp, over 60,000 people died there, and the prosecution submit that the accused could not have been unaware of these deaths. He is being tried as a minor, as he was under 21 when the alleged offences occurred. (Washington Post)

ICC Prosecutor’s Statement to the UNSC on the Situation in Libya

On 2 November, Fatou Bensouda, the ICC Prosecutor, addressed the UN Security Council to update them on the Libya situation. She noted that Libya continued to be a high priority for her office. She highlighted the fact that they had piloted new models of cooperation with both states and organisations in relation to alleged crimes against migrant travelling through Libya. Ms Bensouda went on to address the admissibility challenge launched by Saif Gadaffi in June 2018. The ICC Pre-Trial Chamber issued a warrant for his arrest in June 2011. He has argued that his case is not admissible before the ICC due to a domestic amnesty process in Libya. Ms Bensouda noted that on 28 September she had filed a response to the challenge which argued that his case was still admissible.  Ms Bensouda further noted that she was continuing to monitor crimes committed by armed groups as well as crimes committed against migrants in Libya. She noted that Mr Gadaffi remained at large, as well as two other men subject to ICC arrest warrants and called on member states to assist the ICC in arresting the men and bringing them before the court. She went on to the thank the Security Council for its support and urged it to continue to help in the fight against impunity.  (ICC OTP Statement)

Photos: Jean-François Gornet/Flickr https://www.flickr.com/photos/jfgornet/

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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