ICL Media Review - Week 31
By ICJ Media Review
In this week's review, news about ECCC defence witness testimony, early release for Borovcanin, the order for Habré to compensate victims, UNSMIL’s warning on crimes in Libya and the ICTY’s request for an amendment of Serbian law.
During the ECCC trial against Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan, a defence witness testified on 3 August about rebellions faced by the Khmer Rouge from Vietnam. The witness, Chen Saroeun, a former monk and later military officer, testified that the Koh Nhek district chief was killed for being associated with the Yuon movement and concealing 12 Vietnamese soldiers with the aim of starting a rebellion. The witness was questioned by the lawyer for Nuon Chea, Victor Koppe, and later cross examined by prosecution lawyer Nicholas Koumjian. During cross examination, the witness admitted that the 12 soldiers were mistaken for Vietnamese soldiers and later identified as members of United Front for the Liberation of Oppressed Races or FULRO. The witness also told the court that there was a plan to assimilate the FULRO minority into the Khmer population by marrying Khmer men to women from the ethnic minorities. (Cambodia Daily)
The UN Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals has confirmed that the ex-deputy commander of the Serb Bosnian police, Ljubomir Borovcanin, has been released from prison in Denmark early, following his expressions of remorse for his crimes. Borovcanin was sentenced in 2010 to 17 years imprisonment (five of which he had served since his arrest in 2005) for crimes against humanity and war crimes arising from the 1995 Srebrenica massacre. Since then, Borovcanin has acknowledged that he did not “do enough” to prevent the events at Srebrenica, during which 8000 Muslim men and boys were killed. The Danish parole service confirmed that Danish penal law permits prisoners to be released after the completion of two-thirds of their sentences and that their decision to release Borovcanin was influenced by the fact that he had confessed to all charges. Two of Borovcanin’s co-accused, Vujadin Popovic and Ljubisa Beara, will continue to serve life sentences for their roles in the crimes committed in Srebrenica. (Balkan Insight, World Bulletin, Latin American Herald Tribune)
The ICTY stated on 2 August that Serbia should urgently amend the law that regulates its cooperation with the Court in the interests of abiding by its obligations under international law. The ICTY called on Serbia to arrest and extradite three members of the Serbian Radical Party for contempt of court charges. The head of Serbia’s National Council for Cooperation, Rasim Ljajic, responded by describing the ICTY’s request as “unusual” and “aimed at exerting additional pressure”, and Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic stated that Serbia “will definitely not be amending laws pursuant to requests from The Hague tribunal”. Dacic furthermore noted that “laws are passed by parliament based on proposals from the government or MPs. The Hague Tribunal is not envisioned to propose laws, and I am not aware of it being able to do so. It is not possible anywhere in the world, and it is not possible in Serbia either.” (In Serbia, B92)
On 29 July, the Extraordinary African Chambers Court ordered former leader of Chad, Hissene Habré to pay compensation to his victims of crimes against humanity. It is reported that victims are to be compensated in amounts varying between $30,000 to $34,000 per victim of rape, arbitrary detention or imprisonment. Victims of sexual violence are to be awarded the highest amount, and relatives of victims of these crimes are to receive the lowest amount. On 30 May, the Extraordinary African Chambers Court sentenced the former Chadian dictator to life imprisonment for war crimes, crimes against humanity, rape, forced slavery and kidnapping. (Justice Hub, BBC, France 24, allAfrica)
Trial of Simone Gbagbo delayed until October
On 1 August, the domestic trial against the former first lady of Ivory Coast, Simone Gbagbo, was adjourned due to what was reported as the accused’s tiredness. The Ivorian court announced that the trial will resume on 10 October once country’s judicial vacation ends. Simone Gbagbo’s trial for alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity started on 31 May in Abidjan. On 29 February 2012, the ICC delivered an arrest warrant against Mrs Gbagbo and asked for her transfer to The Hague. However, Ivory Coast has moved forward with trying her domestically. In March 2015, in a first trial before the Ivorian domestic courts, she was convicted for offences against the state and sentenced to 20 years in prison over her role in the post-election violence in 2010. (New Vision)
The United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) has reported 41 civilian deaths arising from hostilities across Libya in July. The count focuses specifically on the deaths of persons who were not directly participating in hostilities and does not include deaths that were not directly caused by hostilities (i.e. excluding executions after capture, torture, etc.). The parties responsible for the deaths have not been determined with certainty with the exception of one death attributed to the Libyan National Army and three to the Derna Mujahedin Shura Council. The causes of the civilian deaths range from gunshots, to air strikes, to explosive remnants of war. Separately, UNSMIL reported that the bodies of 14 people found in a Benghazi rubbish dump indicated signs of torture. UNSMIL reminded all parties to the Libyan conflict that they are bound, under international humanitarian law, to target military objectives exclusively. Direct attacks against civilians and indiscriminate attacks - which do not distinguish between fighters and civilians - may amount to war crimes, which can be prosecuted by the International Criminal Court. The UN Security Council referred the situation in Libya to the ICC in Resolution 1970 in 2011. (Libya Herald)
- Nuon Chea (Bing)
- Ljubomir Barovcanin (Bing)
- International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (Flickr)
- Former Chadian president Hissène Habré (Bing)
- UNSMIL (Bing)
The ICL Media Review is an independent UK Small Charity, which aims to provide a daily survey of news and developments affecting international criminal law and international human rights in a neutral and impartial manner.