ICJ Media review: Kosovo Tribunal President says Tribunal is ready to issue first indictments

Like Ekaterina Trendafilova
Saturday, December 2, 2017 - 11:53

By ICL Media Review

28 November 2017 – news about the courts - ICC Appeals Chamber issues questions for Bemba appeals hearing and Canadian suit on human rights violations in Eritrea to go forward.

ICTY issues Appeals Judgment in Prlic et al.

In the case of the Prosecutor v. Jadranko Prlić et al. before the Appeals Chamber of the ICTY – the final appeal at the ICTY – the Chamber has delivered its judgment, affirming almost all of the Trial Chamber’s convictions of the six defendants. It ultimately affirmed the sentences handed down by the Trial Chamber, which ranged from 25 to 10 years’ imprisonment. The convictions of the defendants – Prlić, Stojić, Praljak, Petković, Ćorić, and Pušić – remain numerous, but include crimes against humanity, violations of the laws or customs of war, and grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions. The Appeals Chamber furthermore affirmed the Trial Chamber’s decision that the defendants were participants in a joint criminal enterprise in 1993, which was aimed at creating a Croatian entity in Bosnia and Herzegovina through the ethnic cleansing of the Muslim population. However, the Appeals Chamber granted certain grounds of appeal by four of the defendants, while fully dismissing the appeals raised by Prlić and Pušić. In delivering this final appeal judgment, proceedings before the ICTY have concluded, and the Tribunal will formally close on 31 December 2017. (ICTY Press Release)

ICTY accused, Slobodan Praljak, passes away after ingesting poison in ICTY courtroom

On 29 November 2017, one of six defence appellants in the case of the Prosecutor v. Jadranko Prlić et al. before the Appeals Chamber of the ICTY – Mr Slobodan Praljak – passed away in hospital in The Hague. His death followed the public pronouncement of the ICTY Appeal Chamber’s judgment, which confirmed his conviction and affirmed his sentence of 20 years imprisonment. Following delivery of the judgment, Mr Praljak consumed a liquid in court and quickly fell ill. He was assisted by ICTY medical staff, and transferred by ambulance to hospital, where he passed away. Per the request of the ICTY, in accordance with its standard operation procedures, an independent investigation into the events has been initiated by the Dutch authorities. (ICTY Press StatementAl JazeeraBBC)

Kosovo Tribunal President says Tribunal is ready to issue first indictments

Ekaterina Trendafilova, the Bulgarian president of the Kosovo Specialist Chamber mandated to try crimes committed during the 1998-1999 war in Kosovo, has announced that the court is ready to proceed with its first indictments. The Court will apply Kosovo law, but will be physically based in the Netherlands. Trendafilova stated: “there is no immunity for anyone regardless of their position, and amnesty also cannot apply,” adding that the Court will address “individual criminal responsibility not related to any organization, to any group or ethnicity.” (Reuters)

Appeals Chamber in Bemba appeal issues questions for hearing in January

On 27 November, the Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Court made an order in relation to the conduct of the appeals of Mr Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo against his conviction and sentence in 2016 for war crimes and crimes against humanity by Trial Chamber III. The order sets out specific questions on which the parties are to address the Appeals Chamber, including the extent of the Chamber's authority regarding appeals generally and issues relating to the individual grounds of appeal indicated by Mr Bemba. The order also sets out the schedule by which the Chamber will hear the parties make submissions. The Chamber had previously notified the parties on 7 November 2017 that the hearings would be held from 9 January 2018 until 12 January 2018 and on 16 January 2018. (ICC AC Order)

Civil suit in Canada goes forward against Canadian company for human rights violation in Eritrea

On 21 November 2017, the British Columbia Court of Appeal held that a Canadian company, Nevsun Resources, operating in Eritrea and employing non-Canadian workers, could be tried in Canada for mistreatment and violence against its employees. It is alleged that the Canadian mining company was complicit in Eritrea's alleged human rights violations by using army conscripts to work on state or private enterprises. One of the reasons stated by the Court was that it could not be satisfied that Eritrea could adequately conduct a fair trial. According to the Canadian Centre for International Justice this marks the first time that a Canadian appellate court has permitted a mass tort claim for slavery. (Business Vancouver)

Ivory Coast’s President calls on ICC to prosecute Libyans responsible for slave trade

On 25 November 2017, Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara called on the International Criminal Court to indict those responsible for enslaving and selling black African migrants in Libyan slave markets (see here). On 22 November, France sought an urgent UN Security Council session on human trafficking in Libya and raised the possibility of sanctions. (ReutersCNN)

UN says killing of peacekeepers in Mali could be war crime

Four UN peacekeepers and a Malian soldier were killed, and 21 others wounded, in two attacks against the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) on 24 November 2017. The UN Secretary-General and Security Council each issued statements condemning the attack and recalling that attacks against peacekeepers may constitute war crimes. The militant group Jama’at Nusrat al-Islam wal Muslimeen has claimed responsibility for the attacks. (France 24The SOP)

US reverses decision to close Palestinian mission due to ICC complaint against Israel

On 24 November 2017 the United States revised its decision to close the Palestine Liberation Organization mission in Washington. The United States had earlier said that a speech to the UN by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in September triggered a domestic law requiring the office to close if the Palestinian authority sought to have the International Criminal Court prosecute Israeli nationals. The United States has instead restricted the mission for 90 days while also advising the mission “to limit its activities to those related to achieving a lasting, comprehensive peace between the Israelis and Palestinians.” (LA TimesWashington Post)

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