Ratko Mladic Trial Judgment to be delivered on 22 November
On 18 October, the Trial Chamber of the ICTY announced the date and time of the pronouncement of the judgment in the case of The Prosecutor v. Ratko Mladić, set for Wednesday, 22 November 2017 at 10am. The former Bosnian Serb commander faces up to life imprisonment on two counts of genocide and nine counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity. Following his arrest in 2011 after being 16 years on the run, his trial commenced on 16 May 2012 and saw 377 in-court testimonies. (ICTY Press Release, Yahoo News)
Genocide retrial of Rios Montt begins in Guatemala City; defence lawyers expelled
The retrial of former Guatemalan leader Efrain Rios Montt began on 13 October 2017 before a national Supreme Court tribunal – Montt faces the charge of genocide for allegedly ordering massacres of at least 1,771 Ixil Mayan Indians in 1982-1983, during the Guatemalan civil war. He was convicted of genocide in 2013, but the ruling was subsequently overturned, and the Constitutional Court ordered a retrial. Rios Montt maintains his innocence, and will not make a personal appearance in court, having been diagnosed with senile dementia in 2015. On 13 October, it was reported that two lawyers representing Rios Montt were expelled from the courtroom because they represented a criminal complaint during the proceedings. Details of the complaint have not been reported but it was noted that the reading of evidence and proceedings continued in the Rios Montt retrial after the two lawyers left the courtroom. (TeleSur, Reuters)
The Organization of American States assembles a panel to look into possible rights abuses in Venezuela
The Organization of American States has named three independent experts appointed to examine evidence collected on possible crimes against humanity committed in Venezuela under current President Nicolas Maduro. The expert panel will assess whether the situation should be referred to the ICC, on the basis of evidence collected by the OAS through a series of public hearings and reports from more than 50 organizations. The experts will make their recommendations to the OAS Secretary General. (CJ News)
STL Appeals Chamber delivers opinion on questions submitted by PTC under Rule 68(G)
On 18 October, the Appeals Chamber of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) issued an interlocutory decision on questions of law submitted by the Pre-Trial Judge under Rule 68(G) of the Tribunal’s Rules of Procedure and Evidence earlier this year. Through the 15 preliminary questions submitted on 11 August 2017, the Pre-Trial Judge sought clarification from the Appeals Chamber on certain aspects of the applicable law pertaining to a new indictment submitted for confirmation by the STL Prosecution. That was done pursuant to Rule 68(G) of the Rules, which provides that the Pre-Trial Judge “may submit to the Appeals Chamber any preliminary question, on the interpretation of the Agreement, Statute and Rules regarding the applicable law, that he deems necessary in order to examine and rule on the indictment”.
The questions principally related to the crime of criminal association under Article 335 of the Lebanese Criminal Code and the criteria for reviewing the indictment. In its decision, the AC clarified in detail the definition, the material element (actus reus) and the intentional element (mens rea) of the crime of criminal association, as well as the distinction between criminal association and conspiracy, and the criteria for reviewing the indictment. In regards to the latter, it noted that the Pre-Trial Judge must examine whether the material provided by the Prosecutor support a prima facie case against the suspect, and that he cannot take into account submissions made in the Ayyash et al. case that have not been presented before him as supporting material. (STL Judgment, STL Press Release, Naharnet)
African Court dismisses advisory opinion request on consistency of Model Mining Law with African Charter
The African Court of Human and Peoples’ Rights has unanimously rejected a request for an advisory opinion filed by DRC-based NGO l’Association Africaine de Défense des Droits de L’Homme (ASADHO). The advisory opinion was requested to assess whether the “Draft Model Law on Mining on Community Land in Africa” is consistent with the provisions of the African Charter.
The request was rejected on the basis that ASADHO did not have the standing required to file such a request; it had not shown proof of recognized NGO observer status, or alternatively of a memorandum of understanding signed with the AU. The Court therefore found that though ASADHO was an “African organization” within the meaning of Article 4(1) of the Protocol, it failed to fulfil the second condition therein, of being “recognized by the African Union.” (Modern Ghana)
ICC Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda visits Mali
ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda visited Mali on 17-18 October in order to examine the situation in the country, which has recently seen the discovery of mass graves and allegations of crimes potentially falling under the ICC’s mandate. While there, Prosecutor Bensouda was scheduled to meet political, military, and judicial officials, as well as representatives from civil society. (Journal du Cameroun)