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News updates

(For news updates older than two weeks, please visit our news archive.)

2 July 2015: Nuon Chea, 88, and ex-head of state Khieu Samphan, 83, began on Thursday their appeal hearings against their landmark convictions for crimes against humanity last year which saw them handed life sentences by the ECCC. According to a tribunal document, appeal judgments are expected during the first quarter of 2016.

2 July 2015: In the first case of this kind in Denmark, a Danish court on Tuesday stripped Sam Mansour, a Danish-Moroccan individual, of citizenship for inciting terrorism. He was found guilty of supporting Al-Qaeda and Syria's al-Nusra Front in posts on Facebook and for his help in publishing books by Abu Qatada, a Jordanian cleric who was deported from Britain for trial at home. Mansour was sentenced to four years imprisonment in December, but the prosecution sought to also strip him of his citizenship. He now faces possible deportation to Morocco.

2 July 2015: According to the EU Counter-Terrorism Coordinator Gilles de Kerchove, a special unit of the EU law enforcement agency EUROPOL began on Wednesday its mandate to counter propaganda of radical Islam and terrorism. De Kerchove added that "this unit will inform Internet companies of illegal content to expand counter-propaganda".

1 July 2015: Two North Africans have been arrested in Rome on suspicion of being part of an al-Qaeda-inspired terrorist group which was planning attacks in Italy and North Africa. In a separate operation, Italy's anti-terror police arrested ten people accused of planning to fight in Syria alongside ISIS jihadists. 

1 July 2015: The UNESCO World Heritage Committee adopted a resolution on Monday saying that the actions of ISIS to destroy the ancient city of Hatra in Iraq may amount to war crimes.

30 June 2015: According to victims' lawyers more than 4.000 direct and indirect victims have been registered in the trial of former Chadian dictator Hissene Habre for atrocities committed during his presidency. The starting date of Habre's trial for torture, war crimes and crimes against humanity is July 20.

30 June 2015: The Netherlands reached a compensation agreement with the relatives of three men who were sent out of the Dutch army compound in Srebrenica and killed by Bosnian Serbs. In addition to monetary compensation to be provided to victims' relatives, Jeanine Hennis, the Defence Minister, has formally apologised for the way the men were sent to their deaths.

29 June 2015: The Pre-Trial Chamber II of the ICC said on Friday that the State of Sudan has failed to arrest Abdel Raheem Muhammad Hussein against whom the ICC has issued an arrest warrant on 1 March 2012 and to surrender him to the Court. The arrest warrant against Hussein contains allegations for crimes against humanity and war crimes committed in the context of the situation in Darfur (Sudan).

29 June 2015: Riyad al-Maliki, the Palestinian Foreign Minister, said on Thursday that he had presented documents to the ICC to assist in their investigation of alleged Israeli war crimes. The documents allegedly describe the Israel occupation of the West Bank, the treatment of Palestinian prisoners, and alleged war crimes committed during fighting in the Gaza Strip last year.  

26 June 2015: The EU said it will offer counter-terrorism training across East Africa to help the security agencies cope with the deadly raids carried out by Islamist militants in the area. The EU's head of political section in Kenya explained that the programme would focus on training local law enforcement agencies and judiciaries in how to carry out cross-border investigations and construct criminal prosecutions.
 
26 June 2015: A war crimes court in Bosnia issued a "revolutionary" decision on Wednesday granting the first ever compensation to a wartime rape victim and sentencing two former Bosnian Serb soldiers who raped her to 10 years imprisonment each.

25 June 2015: Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the American Civil Liberties Union  on Tuesday issued a joint letter to the US Department of Justice calling for the creation of a special prosecutor to investigate allegations that the CIA agents used torture against detainees held at Guantanamo Bay prison and elsewhere.

25 June 2015: Following the event according to which Omar al-Bashir was allowed to attend an African Union summit in South Africa despite being wanted by the ICC on charges of genocide and war crimes, South Africa said it would review its membership to the ICC "for a number of reasons".

24 June 2015: The attorney general’s office in Colombia is allegedly preparing the biggest-ever legal action against the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). The report will include over 500.000 allegations of crimes during the Colombian conflict, including crimes against humanity and war crimes. 

24 June 2015: 
The UN Independent Commission of Inquiry on the 2014 Gaza Conflict said on Monday in a report that the 51-day Gaza conflict resulted in widespread destruction and over a thousand deaths. The report concluded that both Israel and Hamas may have committed war crimes during the conflict.  

23 June 2015: Karenzi Karake, one of Rwanda’s top military figures, has been arrested at Heathrow Airport on Saturday, and remanded in custody ahead of a court hearing on Thursday. Karate has been indicted by a Spanish judge in 2008 for alleged war crimes in the years after the 1994 Rwandan genocide. He is accused of ordering massacres while head of Rwanda’s military intelligence between 1994 and 1997, and ordering the killing of three Spanish nationals working for the NGO Médicos del Mundo.

22 June 2015: The Prosecutors of the ICTY reopened on Monday their trial against former Bosnian Serb military chief Gen. Ratko Mladic in order to present new evidence gleaned from a mass grave of more than 400 bodies discovered in Bosnia in 2013. Mladic is charged with genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes for his alleged role orchestrating atrocities by Bosnian Serb forces. In the case that he is convicted, he will face a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. 

19 June 2015: The US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit on Wednesday ruled on the possibility that a group of former top US officials, such as a former Attorney General and former FBI director, may be held liable for the abuse of hundreds of persons detained for minor immigration violations after the 9/11 events. The court held that the US officials may have gone too far in attempting to find the terrorists responsible for the attacks, thus violating the Constitution in the process. 

18 June 2015: Ramush Haradinaj, a former Prime Minister of Kosovo, has been detained in Slovenia over an investigation into war crimes during the late 1990s conflict. Slovenian police said they were executing a 2006 Interpol arrest warrant issued at the request of Serbia over his time as rebel commander in the 1998-1999 war. Haradinaj denied all allegations according to which he oversaw a campaign of torture and murder against Serbs and their allies and expressed that the action taken by the Slovenian state is 'unacceptable and very offensive'.

New cases, briefs and videos

NEW CASE: The case of the Prosecutor's Office of Bosnia and Herzegovina v. Zijad Kurtović is now available online. Zijad Kurtović, a commander of a military police platoon of the Bosnian army, was accused of involvement in war crimes committed during the war between Croatia and Bosnia (1992-1995). In first instance, Kurtović was found guilty on all charges and sentenced to 11 years’ imprisonment. Kurtović appealed on several grounds, arguing that the first instance Panel had erred in law (using the wrong law) and in fact (wrongly established certain facts). The prosecution also appealed against the sentence, which was, in its view, too lenient. The Appellate Panel partly agreed with Kurtović where it concerned the classification of the crimes. However, the findings on the facts remained further unchanged. Therefore, the Appellate Panel amended the conviction to only include war crimes against civilians and the wanton destruction of religious monuments. The prosecutor’s appeal was dismissed; the 11-year prison sentence was upheld.

NEW CASE: The case of the Prosecutor's Office of Bosnia and Herzegovina v. Radmilo Vuković aka Rade is now available online. Radmilo Vuković was born on 28 July 1952 in the village of Rataje located in the municipality of Foča, southeastern Bosnia and Herzegovina. In his capacity as member of the military forces of the so-called Serb Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, also known as “Republika Srpska”, Vuković allegedly had sexual intercourse with a woman from the Foča municipality without her consent. On 13 August 2008, the Appeals Panel of the War Crimes section of the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina did not find Vuković guilty, because the main piece of evidence provided by the victim and presented before the Appellate Panel contained inconsistencies. Therefore, it could not be established beyond reasonable doubt that Vuković raped the woman.

NEW CASE: The case of  the Prosecutor's Office of Bosnia and Herzegovina v. Mirko Todorović and Miloš Radić is now available online. Todorović and Radić were found guilty of participating in an attack conducted in Bratunac on 20 May 1992, which was directed against Bosnian Muslim (Bosniak) civilians. On that day, Todorović and four other members of the Serbian army arrested 14 Bosniak civilians and brought them to a house where one of the civilians was killed. Todorović, together with Radić, did not allow the other civilians to leave the house. The civilians were beaten, cursed, and their money and valuable items were taken away. Subsequently, the civilians were brought to a slope on a nearby creek, lined up and killed.

NEW CASE: The case of Polyukhovich v. The Commonwealth of Australia and Another is available online. Ivan Timofeyevich Polyukhovich was born in the village of Serniki in the Pinsk region, Ukraine. Polyukhovich became an Australian citizen in 1958. In January 1990, a case was brought against Polyukhovich in Australia for his alleged involvement in the mass killing of approximately 850 people from the Jewish ghetto in Serniki village and for killing 24 other people between August and September 1942. Their bodies had been exhumed in June and July 1990. On 18 May 1993, Polyukhovich was acquitted because there was not sufficient evidence to continue with the case.

NEW CASE: The case of the Office of the War Crimes Prosecutor v. Miroljub Vujović et al. is now available online. The accused in the case were all members of the Vukovar Territorial Defence force (TO) or of the volunteer unit called “Leva Supoderica”. On 18 November 1991, members of the Croatian armed forces surrendered themselves to the Yugoslav People's Army (JNA). As a result, they had to enjoy certain rights and protection under international law because they were prisoners of war. For instance, they had to be treated humanely, should not be beaten or killed. Nevertheless, they were taken to the Ovčara farm in the Vukovar municipality on 20 and 21 November 1991, where they were brutally beaten, injured, and killed by members of the TO force (including the accused). Approximately 200 Croatians were killed at the Ovčara farm.  

NEW CASE:
The case of the Ad Hoc Prosecutors v. Timbul Silaen is now available online. Timbul Silaen worked as police chief in East Timor in 1999. As such, he was responsible for the security during the independence referendum held in the country on 30 August 1999. Before and after the referendum, deadly incidents took place between people in favour of East Timor’s secession from the Republic of Indonesia and the pro-Indonesian supporters. Approximately 1000 people died, 80% of the territory was destroyed, and 250,000 people were forcibly evacuated to Indonesia. Silaen was prosecuted because as a commander he allegedly failed to stop his subordinates from committing crimes and also failed to bring them to court in order to be prosecuted. In 2002, the Indonesian Ad Hoc Tribunal for East Timor did not found Silaen guilty as a commander because it could not be proven beyond a reasonable doubt that his subordinates had committed the crimes.

NEW ICD BRIEF: Laura Paredi, PhD Candidate at the University of Milan, has written a new ICD Brief focusing on "The War Crime of Terror: An analysis of international jurisprudence". Check it out here.  

CALL FOR INTERNS:
The T.M.C. Asser Instituut in The Hague is looking for two university and university of applied science students in the final stages of their bachelor’s degree or during/after their master’s degree, with a solid background in international criminal law, to work on the International Crimes Database (ICD). Students who wish to apply should send their letter of motivation, a CV and a recent (within the last year) academic writing sample to HRM@asser.nl by Wednesday 24 June C.O.B. Interviews will take place in the week of 6 July 2015. The envisaged start date is 15 July 2015. For more information see here and here.

NEW CASE: The case of The Queen (on the application of Maya Evans) v. Secretary of State for Defence is now available online. The case came as a result of information that Afghan terror detainees transferred by the British Armed Forces to the Afghan National Directorate of Security (NDS) were beaten and physically mistreated. Maya Evans, a U.K. peace activist, sought to stop that practice and brought a case before the British High Court of Justice. On 25 June 2010, the Court decided that there was a chance that detainees were indeed mistreated at the NDS detention facility in Kabul. Therefore, the Court banned detainee transfers to this NDS facility. Transfers to the NDS facilities in Kandahar and Lashkar Gah remained allowed, although the Court imposed a series of ‘safeguards’ and monitoring arrangements on all future transfers of detainees.

NEW CASE: The case of The Deputy General Prosecutor for Serious Crimes v. Col. Herman Sedyono et al. is now available online. The defendants in this case took part in a widespread or systematic attack directed against civilians that were in favour of an independent East Timor. One of the accused, Herman Sedyono, was the Bupati (District Administrator) of the Covalima District, one of the 13 districts in East Timor. As such, he was bearing the primary responsibility for maintaining peace and security in the region. Most of the other accused were Commander or just member of the Indonesian security authorities (TNI) or the Indonesian police force (POLRI), which were both promoting autonomy within the Republic of Indonesia. In 1999, the Mahidi and the Laksaur pro-Indonesian militia groups, with the help of the TNI and POLRI, and with support from the Covalima District administration, repeatedly committed attacks against the Covalima population (mainly against those that were in favour of independence). The 16 accused were charged with encouraging, assisting and failing to stop, arrest or prosecute the perpetrators of the crimes. 

CALL FOR ABSTRACTS:
The ICD invites submissions of short articles for publication in the online paper series of the ICD, the ICD Briefs. Please send an abstract of your submission (500 words, incl. brief biographies or author affiliations) to editors@internationalcrimesdatabase.org by 1 July. Please also include a CV with your submission. Authors of selected abstracts will be informed by 15 July. Selected authors should be prepared to submit a full paper for review by 1 October. Find out more about the selection process and guidelines for ICD Briefs here.

NEW CASE: The case of The Ad Hoc Prosecutor v. Lt. Col. Inf. Soedjarwo is now available online. Lieutenant Colonel Soedjarwo was a military commander of the Indonesian National Army (TNI) in the district of Dili between 9 August 1999 and 20 December 1999. Soedjarwo was found guilty of crimes against humanity because he failed to prevent his troops from attacking the Diocese office of Dili and the residence of Archbishop Belo in Dili on 4 and 6 September 1999. At least 13 civilians who were seeking refuge at these two places were killed during the attack.

NEW CASE: The case of Teófila Ochoa Lizarbe et al v. Telmo Ricardo Hurtado Hurtado is now available online. On 14 August 1985, 60 women, children and elderly men were killed in the highlands village of Accomarca in Peru’s southern Andean region of Ayacucho. This massacre is known as the Accomarca Massacre. The plaintiffs brought a complaint against Telmo Ricardo Hurtado Hurtado (Second Lieutenant (Subteniente) in the Peruvian Army) who was responsible for the command of the soldiers that committed the killings. The plaintiffs sought justice on behalf of all the members of the Asociación de Familiares Afectados por la Violencia Política del Distrito de Accomarca (Association of Relatives of the Victims of Political Violence in Accomarca) who lost relatives in the massacre. Hurtado was found guilty for the crimes committed in connection with the Accomarca Massacre. On 4 March 2008, the District Court for the Southern District of Florida ordered Hurtado to pay $37 million in damages to the plaintiffs.  

NEW CASE:
The case of the Public Prosecutor v. Oie Hee Koi and connected appeals is now available online. During the fighting between Indonesia and Malaysia, twelve Malaysian Chinese members of the Indonesian Air Force who were heavily armed, infiltrated into Malaysia (ten by parachute and two by boat). They were arrested, convicted pursuant to Malaysian law and sentenced to death. The Federal Court of Malaysia held that two members were protected pursuant to international law, in particular the Geneva Prisoners of War Convention of 1949. On appeal, the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council decided that they were not protected under the 1949 Geneva Convention because they were nationals of Malaysia (the state that detained them). Therefore, they could be prosecuted under national law for offences against that law.

NEW CASE: The case of Physicians for Human Rights and others v. Prime Minister of Israel and others & Gisha Legal Centre for Freedom of Movement and others v. Minister of Defence is now available online. When Hamas, a Palestinian armed resistance group, came into power in Gaza, southern Israel was increasingly subject to heavy missile attacks. On 27 December 2008, the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) began a large-scale military operation that Israel initiated in the Gaza Strip in order to stop the shooting of mortars. During that operation, also known as “Operation Cast Lead”, the IDF entered the Gaza Strip and attacked targets used by Hamas. In January 2009, two organizations filed a complaint against Israel and claimed that during the operation, the IDF did not protect medical centers and personnel, did not help with the transfer of wounded people, and did not supply electricity to the Gaza Strip. The Israeli Supreme Court found that Israel was acting reasonably and had not violated any international rules.   

NEW CASE:
The case of the Prosecutor's Office of Bosnia and Herzegovina v. Dragoje Paunović is now available online. Dragoje Paunović was born on 19 June 1954 in the town of Mojkovac in northern Montenegro. Paunović was a senior officer of a small military formation attached to the Battalion of Rogatica, a battalion part of the Bosnian Serb Army. In the period May to September 1992, attacks were carried out by military and police forces of Bosnia and Herzegovina and by Serbian paramilitary formations against the Bosnian Muslims (Bosniaks) living in the municipality of Rogatica. On 15 August 1992,  Paunović used 27 Bosniaks as protection during a clash between the army of the Republika Srpska and the army of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Bosniaks were detained in the Rasadnik detention camp in Rogatica, and later driven to the town of Jacen in Rogatica where 24 of them were subsequently killed under the orders of Paunović. The Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina found Paunović guilty of crimes against humanity and sentenced him to 20 years in prison.

NEW VIDEO: On Tuesday, 17 March 2015, Raji Sourani, Director of the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, and Shawan Jabarin, Director of Al-Haq, gave a lecture in the context of the Supranational Criminal Law Lecture Series, entitled: "Palestine and the International Criminal Court". The video can be found here.

NEW CASE: The case of Mamani et al. v. Sánchez de Lozada, and Mamani et al. v. Sánchez Berzain is now available online. It concerns the case of nine relatives of people killed during a series of national protests in Bolivia in October 2003, who brought a case in the U.S. against the former President of Bolivia, Sánchez de Lozada, and the former Minister of Defence of Bolivia, Sánchez Berzaín. The plaintiffs claimed that Sánchez de Lozada and Sánchez Berzaín were responsible for the killing of more than 400 people in Bolivia during the suppression of the protests directed against the government’s policies. In particular, the plaintiffs claimed that Sánchez de Lozada and Sánchez Berzaín gave orders to the Bolivian security forces to use deadly force against protestors. The plaintiffs asked for compensation. On 29 August 2011, a U.S. Court of Appeals dismissed their claims because they had not presented enough evidence to establish a link between both Sánchez de Lozada and Sánchez Berzaín and the killings.

NEW CASE: The case of Her Majesty the Queen (Prosecutor) v. Désiré Munyaneza is now available online. Désiré Munyaneza was born in December 1966 in Rwanda. Between the beginning of April and the end of July 1994, Hutus killed approximately 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus in Rwanda. During that period, Munyaneza was one of the leaders of the Interahamwe Hutu paramilitary organisation in Butare, which played a major role in the 1994 Rwandan genocide. In 1997, Munyaneza fled to Canada to avoid prosecution. However, in October 2005 he was arrested in Canada on suspicion of his involvement in the 1994 Rwandan genocide. In May 2009, the Quebec Superior Court found Munyaneza guilty for the criminal offences of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes for abducting, raping, sexually assaulting, and killing Tutsis, and for pillaging of their properties. He was sentenced to life in prison. 

NEW CASE: The case of Regina (on the application of Robert Lewis Manson) (Claimant) v. The Bow Street Magistrates' Court (First Defendant) and Carmarthen Justices (Second Defendant) is now available online. In March 2003, Phil Pritchard and Toby Olditch, peace activists, entered the bases of the Royal Air Force (RAF) and tried to disable the planes located there. They acted in an attempt to prevent a crime by the U.K. and the U.S., namely the preparation of a war against Iraq. Two other activists, Margaret Jones and Paul Milling, also entered the RAF base. All the activists were charged in the U.K. In their defence, they claimed that the actions of the U.K. and the U.S. were illegal. Their defence was rejected by the English courts because the alleged crime was a crime under international law but not under English criminal law.