Week 49 - ICL Media Review
By ICL Media Review
In this week's review, news about the closing statements in the Mladic trial, the opening of the Ongwen trial, ECCC testimony on purges and investigation into the Rwanda genocide.
Mladic Trial hears Prosecution closing arguments
On Monday, the Prosecution started presenting its closing arguments in the trial of the former Bosnian Serb commander Ratko Mladic. The four-and-a-half year trial moves closer to its conclusion as the last major war crimes case at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY). Prosecutor Alan Tieger told the judges that, unlike the marginal role ascribed to him by the defence, Mladic was a central figure in the 1995 massacre in Srebrenica. “Mladic walked into Srebrenica and vowed that the time had come to take revenge on the Turks,” said Tieger accusing Mladic of leading the “systematic slaughter” of more than 8,000 Muslim boys and men. The 74-year-old faces up to life imprisonment on two counts of genocide and nine counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity. Mladic was arrested in Serbia in May 2011 after being 16 years on the run, and is also facing charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity for the 44-month siege of Sarajevo, in which an estimated 10,000 people died. His trial at the ICTY began soon after his arrest, alongside that of former Bosnian Serb political leader Radovan Karadzic who was sentenced to 40 years in prison in March this year. In his closing arguments, Tieger also quoted Mladic as telling the Bosnian Serb assembly in 1994 they had an historic opportunity to create “not any kind of state, but an all-Serb state with as few enemies as possible”. The Defence will give closing statements between 9 and 13 December. A verdict is expected in 2017, with closing arguments due to conclude on December 15. (Reuters, Balkan Insight)
ICC trial against Dominic Ongwen begins with not guilty plea, and Prosecution and victims opening statements
On 6 December, the trial started in the Ongwen case before the ICC Trial Chamber IX. Dominic Ongwen is accused of 70 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity allegedly committed in northern Uganda between October 2003 and June 2004. He is also accused to have, as a commander of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), allegedly participated in a common plan to i) abduct women and girls then used as forced wives, sex slaves, or domestic help and ii) “conscript and use children under the age of 15 to participate actively in hostilities in the LRA” from at least 1 July 2002 until 31 December 2005. After the reading of the charges, Mr. Ongwen pleaded not guilty. He explained that he was himself a victim of LRA’s campaign of child kidnapping and stated that “it was the LRA who abducted and killed people in northern Uganda, and I am one of the people against whom the LRA committed atrocities. It is not me who is the LRA”. The ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda along with Senior Trial Lawyer Benjamin Gumpert made its opening statements. On 7 January 2016, the two victims teams – representing 4,107 victims participating in the case – will make their opening statements. Then, the Ongwen case will resume on 16 December 2016 to start the Prosecution case. Following Defence Counsel Krispus Ayena Odongo’s request, the Defence team will make its opening statements once the Prosecution has finished the presentation of its case. The Defence will then starts its case. The trial opening was broadcasted live in Northern Uganda and in Kampala. (ICC Website, UK Reuters, BBC, The Guardian)
ECCC hears testimony on motives for purges
On 2 December, witness Sing Oeng gave testimony before the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) in the trial against accuseds Khieu Samphan and Nuon Chea. Witness Sim Oeng, a relative of the East Zone Commader and accused “traitor” Sao Phim, was asked questions regarding the Khmer Rouge’s motivation for purges; primarily about whether the purges were a reaction to a legitimate threat of a coup within the Khmer Rouge’s regime. On questioning from Defence Counsel, the witness claimed that he had never heard about a planned coup d’ état in order to overthrow Pol Pot. In response the Defence raised the witness’s previous statement in which he expressed knowledge of a planned could. The witness explained that when he referred to a coup in his previous statement he thought the definition “coup d’état” referred to internal conflicts. (The Phnom Penh Post)
Rwanda investigating involvement of French military officials in genocide
On 30 November, Rwanda opened an inquiry against 20 French military officials for their role in the 1994 genocide, some of whom could be charged in court if proceedings show they have cases to answer. It has been reported that this move of the Rwanda government may raise tensions already existing between the two countries. Rwanda’s Prosecutor General, Richard Muhumuza, noted that more information is required from the 20 individuals as part of the inquiry. (JURIST)
- Ratko Mladic (en.wikipedia.org/Bing)
- Dominic Ongwen (inyenyerinews.org/Bing)
- ECCC (Mark Peters/Khmer Rouge Tribunal (ECCC)/Flickr)
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.