International Criminal Justice News Roundup: August 2013

Dear all,

Please find below the news headlines on international criminal justice from August. You can find past headlines and other relevant resources on the International Association of Prosecutors’ (IAP) Forum for International Criminal Justice (FICJ) website.

The FICJ is password protected and only IAP members have access. This is meant to facilitate open and frank dialogue between prosecutors. Please contact Evie Sardeman, Office Manager (OM@iap-association.org) or Janne Holst Hübner, Communication Manager (CM@iap-association.org) with questions about IAP membership and website access.

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30 August
UN SG: Cambodia Khmer Rouge tribunal needs funding
(Source: Jurist)
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said Wednesday that Cambodia’s Khmer Rouge tribunal, the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC), is running out of money, threatening its survival. Ban urged international donors to provide financial support to keep the tribunal running. Due to the financial strain, some staff have not been paid in months and are now threatening to strike…

29 August
ICTY removes judge from Vojislav Seselj’s war crimes trial
(Source: Deutsche Welle)
The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) announced on Thursday that it had disqualified Danish Judge Frederik Harhoff from adjudicating at the trial of Serbian ultranationalist Vojislav Seselj. It said a special panel or chamber of three judges appointed to consider Sesejl’s request for Harhoff’s removal had voted 2-1 in favor of the disqualification. “The Chamber found… that Judge Frederik Harhoff had demonstrated an unacceptable appearance of bias in favour of conviction,” a statement posted on the ICTY’s website said…

It’s Time for Saif al-Islam Gaddafi to Go to The Hague
(Source: Human Rights Watch)
Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, the son of the former Libyan leader, has been held under guard by a militia in Zintan in western Libya for close to two years, as the new Libyan authorities and the International Criminal Court (ICC) argue over who will try him. After failing in a bid to prosecute the ICC’s allegations against Gaddafi, it’s time for Libya to follow its legal obligations and turn him over to the ICC…

28 August
Bosnia police chief sentenced to 14 years for war crimes
(Source: Jurist)
The Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina on Wednesday sentenced Goran Saric, a former police chief, to 14 years for crimes against humanity. His charges specifically involved detention, forced transfer and murder of civilian Bosniak population of Sarajevo’s Centar municipality between June and July 1992 during the Bosnian Civil War in violation of Article 172(1)(h) of BiH’s Criminal Code…

27 August
Rwanda Tribunal digs up partial truth
(Source: Radio Netherlands)
The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) based in Arusha, Tanzania, is due to conclude at the end of 2014 following several deferrals. Analysts have globally recognised the ICTR’s role in bringing perpetrators of the 1994 Rwandese genocide to justice. However, for a variety of reasons, analysts also believe that the tribunal has not entirely fulfilled its mandate…

UN failed to investigate Kosovo war crimes: AI
(Source: Jurist)
The UN Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) failed to adequately investigate missing person reports in the aftermath of the 1998-99 Kosovo war with Serbia, Amnesty International (AI) reported Tuesday…

26 August
UN rights chief visits Sri Lanka to investigate war crimes allegations
(Source: Jurist)
At the beginning of a week-long visit to Sri Lanka, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay pledged to raise concerns with the government’s human rights record, particularly with regard to alleged war crimes against ethnic Tamils…

19 August
Chad: Investigation Starts in Habre Case
(Source: allAfrica)
The special court charged with trying former Chadian president Hissène Habré this Monday launched its investigations with a two-week mission to Chad, reports Radio France Internationale. Habré, who has been living in exile in Senegal for 22 years, was arrested on June 30 at his home in Dakar and charged two days later with crimes against humanity, war crimes and torture committed between 1982 and 1990 when he was in power in Chad…

18 August
Jailed general cleared of contempt of court
(Source: WDTN)
The Yugoslav war crimes tribunal has acquitted a jailed Bosnian Serb army general of contempt of court, saying his post-traumatic stress disorder was a reasonable excuse for refusing to testify in the trial of his former commander-in-chief, Radovan Karadzic. Gen. Radislav Krstic, who is serving a 35-year sentence for aiding and abetting genocide, was subpoenaed last year to testify at Karadzic’s long-running trial, but repeatedly refused to give evidence, citing ill health…

16 August
ICC Seeks to Reassure Kenyan Violence Victims
(Source: IWPR)
Ahead of two trials due to start in The Hague in the coming months, the prosecutor’s office at the International Criminal Court, ICC, has sought to reassure Kenyans about the strength of its case against the country’s leaders. Despite significant challenges surrounding its investigations in Kenya the Office of the Prosecutor, OTP, has said the public “should not read too much into” revelations that certain witnesses who were due to testify before the court have recently been replaced…

15 August
Israel extradites Serb-Israeli to Bosnia-Herzegovina for genocide
(Source: Jerusalem Post)
The government of Bosnia- Herzegovina submitted the request for his extradition on August 29, 2010…Extraditions are a rare proceeding where a defendant can both go before the Supreme Court as an appeals court and later appeal to the same court in its capacity as the High Court of Justice on different grounds. Zvtkovic is suspected of involvement in the 1995 Srebrenica massacre in which as many as 8,000 Muslims were executed after Serb forces overran the town during the civil war in Bosnia…

13 August
Hague war crimes ruling threatens to undermine future prosecutions
(Source: The Guardian)
Generals and politicians could evade responsibility for war crimes in future because of a ruling requiring proof that they “specifically directed” atrocities, say some international lawyers and senior judges. A series of acquittals by the international criminal tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) have created a novel judicial precedent that human rights groups fear will make it difficult to deliver justice in the wake of massacres…

11 August
HRW states July 29 Iraq bombings were crimes against humanity
(Source: Jurist)
Human Rights Watch stated on Sunday that the Islamic State of Iraq, a suspected al Qaeda branch, had committed crimes against humanity during the July 29 bombings in Iraq. The Islamic State of Iraq claimed responsibility for a series of car bombs implemented to aid a prison raid. The July 29 bombings killed over 60 people, and July was the bloodiest month in Iraq in over five years according to the United Nations Assistance Mission in Iraq (UNAMI) estimates…

8 August
Saif al-Islam Gaddafi’s lawyer calls for UK intervention over execution fears
(Source: The Guardian)
The British lawyer representing Saif al-Islam Gaddafi has called on the UK to intervene on his client’s behalf amid fears that the son of the former Libyan dictator will be sentenced to death in a trial expected later in August…

7 August
ICC Prosecutor voices concern about ongoing serious crimes in Central African Republic
(Source: UN News Centre)
The prosecutor of the world’s first permanent court set up to try those accused of genocide and war crimes today voiced her deep concern about the worsening security situation in the Central African Republic (CAR) and reports of serious crimes being committed there…

5 August
International prosecutor accuses Nigerian Islamist group of possible crimes against humanity
(Source: Montreal Gazette)
The prosecutor of the International Criminal Court says that after a preliminary investigation she believes that acts attributed to the Nigerian Islamist group Boko Haram are likely crimes against humanity. “Information available provides a reasonable basis to believe that since July 2009 Boko Haram has launched a widespread and systematic attack that has resulted in the killing of more than 1,200 Christian and Muslim civilians in different locations throughout Nigeria,” Fatou Bensouda wrote in a report issued Monday…

ICC moves witnesses to Europe ahead of Hague trial
(Source: The Star)
The International Criminal Court (ICC) has relocated five top witnesses from an African country ahead of the start of hearings for the post election violence cases against President Uhuru Kenyatta, his Deputy William Ruto and journalist Joshua Arap Sang…Before they were flown out by officials from the ICC Witness Protection Unit there were fears about their security which led to the relocation on a night flight two days ago. ICC Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda is expected to use the witnesses to testify during the hearings…

Liberia: Taylor Complains From Prison
(Source: allAfrica)
Detained ex-President Charles Taylor has written the African Union, complaining about the prison condition and the discrimination being meted out against him and other African detainees there, describing it as racist…

2 August
Special Tribunal for Lebanon sets provisional date for Hariri murder trial
(Source: Middle East Online)
The UN-backed tribunal set up to try the killers of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri on Friday set a provisional January start date for the trial. “The pre-trial Judge at the Special Tribunal for Lebanon today issued an order setting 13 January 2014 as a new tentative date for the start of the trial,” the court said in a statement…

Syria: UN human rights chief urges probe into alleged execution of Government soldiers
(Source: UN News Centre)
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay today urged an independent investigation into whether war crimes had been committed when armed opposition groups in Syria allegedly executed dozens of captured Government soldiers in the northern province of Aleppo last month…

SNHR: SNHR Receives a Certificate of Thanks and Appreciation from the Human Rights Data Analysis Group

The Syrian Network for Human Rights received a certificate of thanks and appreciation from the Human Rights Data analysis group (HRDNG): an Organization that analyzes conflict-victims around the world, and whose research is depended on by the United Nations.

On the back of cooperation and constant communication between Syrian Network for Human Rights and HRDNG and also the United Nations, and provides them with all required statistics and files using the highest global standards in all objectivity, perseverance and continuity,  and also provides the answers to all questions in all detail.

The Syrian Network for Human Rights, considered one of the most prominent sources for the United Nation, in documenting non-international armed conflict’s victims in Syrian, depended on by many human rights organizations, and Arab and international news agency.

Please view the message’s text via following attachment:

https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B9Bj18tlYYKBRnZNNi1URzJWUDQ/edit

The Syrian Network for Human Rights will keep working professionally and in high credibility, and we thank the SNHR’s members, especially the members deployed inside Syrian governorates, who risks their lives in order to document the ongoing violations committed against Syrian citizens.

Founder and Director of the Syrian Human Rights Network,

Fadel Abudl Ghany

SNHR: Military Pieces that Contain Prisoners

Prepared by Syrian Network for Human Rights

Date of issue: 30/8/2013

According to the last statistic conducted by SNHR in 12/6/2013, the number of detainees exceeded 215.000.  SNHR listed more than 50% of them, and because there are parents not willing to refer to their child’s detention, especially if she is a female, this hampers the ability to document all detainees’ names, unlike the victims whose names we documented accurately.

The detention, or enforced disappearances, occur when persons are arrested, detained or abducted against their will or otherwise deprived of their liberty by officials of different branches or levels of Government, by organized groups, or private individuals acting on behalf of, or with the support be it direct or indirect, consent or acquiescence to the Government.  This is followed by a refusal to disclose the fate or whereabouts of the persons concerned, or a refusal to acknowledge the deprivation of their liberty, which places such persons outside the protection of the law.

Among the 215.000 detainees, 80.000 Syrian citizens considered as enforced disappearance, according to SNHR’s lists, which are available for IRC and UN if they wish to see.

Among the 215.000 detainees, more than 9,000 are under the age of 18, and subjected to different types of torture similar to the torture detained men undergo.

Among the 215.000 detainees, more than 5000 women.

The detainees are subjected to the daily, systematically, and extremely violent and difficult methods of torture for at least 14 hours a day, which led to the death of 3117 citizens tortured to death, including 29 women and 91 children.

Due to the significant rise in the numbers of detainees, prisons and the main security branches are no longer enough, they are:

1- Air Force intelligence

2- Military Security

3- Political Security

4- State Security

In addition to central prisons, that contain thousands of detainees, our report focuses on military bases that contain detainees.

The Syrian regime used military bases as detention centers where civilians were tortured.  It is almost confirmed that the international society will intervene militarily to stop the bloodshed in Syria and hit the regime’s military bases where they used to shell the cities and residential neighborhoods from.  However, we must pay attention to theses military bases that contain civilian prisoners that take into consideration an objective to only target military vehicles without the buildings that exist within those military units, in order to preserve the life of those civilians.

We also don’t rule out that Syrian regime will kill large numbers of detainees and accuse the international society of doing so.

These are the following military bases, with each site there is a map that shows the location of it:

First: Damascus governorate

 

– Almaza military airport (there are almost 8,000 detainees from Damascus and countryside exist in the sport hall of the airport)

https://maps.google.com/?ll=33.484225,36.22673&spn=0.004886,0.010568&t=h&z=17

– Omaya school turned into military barrack

https://maps.google.com/maps?q=33.517122,36.311917&num=1&t=h&z=16

– Altajheez school turned into military barrack

https://maps.google.com/maps?q=33.515351,36.292498&num=1&t=h&z=17

– Pakistani school turned into military barrack

https://maps.google.com/maps?q=33.50424,36.115451&num=1&t=h&z=16

– Tenth Brigade Qatana

– Third Brigade Qtaifih

– Sydnaya prison https://maps.google.com/maps?q=33.665461,36.328819&num=1&t=h&z=15

– Aldomair airport

https://maps.google.com/maps?q=33.615191,36.745563&num=1&t=h&z=14

– Fourth Brigade Dimas containers

– Republican Guard:  Najha containers

– First Brigade: Alkosoa

================================

Second: Homs governorate:

– Alhasan Ibn Alhaitham military campaign, all the detainees there are civilians:

https://maps.google.com/maps?q=34.69048,36.728763&hl=en&num=1&t=h&z=17

– Military housing factory, most detainees are civilians:

https://maps.google.com/maps?q=34.657216,36.715898&hl=en&num=1&t=h&z=16

– Air Defense Brigade in Ghantou village, most of the detainees are defected soldiers and Free Syrian Army’s fighters:

https://maps.google.com/maps?q=34.795259,36.710932&hl=en&num=1&t=h&z=17

– Military institute for vegetables and fruits- Qusor neighborhood, most detainees moved to air security branch, only a few civilians there:

https://maps.google.com/maps?q=34.746895,36.709562&hl=en&num=1&t=h&z=19

SNHR’s members received reports that security forces evacuated the security headquarters and central prison, and were transferred to civilians headquarters in the following areas:

(Mukhtaria, Zahraa, Zaidal)

========================================

Third: Aleppo governorate:

– Hanano Barrackshttps://maps.google.com.eg/maps?q=36.207403,37.169641&hl=en&num=1&t=m&z=16

36.207403,37.169641

– Aleppo International Stadium: turned into military barrack, contains armor

https://maps.google.com.eg/maps?q=36.186104,37.116939&hl=en&num=1&t=m&z=13

36.186104,37.116939

– Alnairab military airport, has civilians and defected soldiers in its buildings

https://maps.google.com/maps?q=36.180614,37.22438&num=1&t=h&z=16

===========================================================================

Fourth: Hama governorate:

 

– Military airport has large numbers of detainees, specifically in dispensary and the near buildings.

https://maps.google.com/maps?q=35.122717,36.708042&num=1&t=h&z=13

– Brigade 47 located on southern side of Homs Highway

–  Dier Shmil camp located in the western countryside

==============================================

Fifth : Lattakia governorate:

 

All the detainees are civilians who retreated or wanted to do military service.  They were held in this location in addition to prisoners that were transferred from political security..  Unless they were transferred to the courts or Damascus.

 1- Military bases:

-The castle is in the center of the city and is also an air base and a missile platform, containing a large number of Anti-aircraft munitions, Gvozdika, number of soldiers are 360, and there are tunnels underneath

35.521434, 35.785303

 

– Salah Aldin barracks ( which is a battalion belong to the Republican Guard, military security and Military prison)

– Al- Yahodia located at the entrance of the city before Tishreen university, extends over a wide area, contain thousands of soldiers, surface to surface rocket launcher and other weapons.

2- Alternative bases:

– Sports city (Alassad sport city) off the shore of the Mediterranean Sea on the northern outskirts of the city of Latakia. With an area of 160 hectares, has been turned into a military barracks contains tanks, armored personnel carrier, Ammunition depots, and is the official residence of Helal Al-Assad while turning the horse track to a place of detention hundreds of Syrians

– Jol Jamal school turned into military barrack, launching centre, and arming soldiers ( inside the school there is a tunnel leads to shelters under Hafez Al-Asaad’s statue in Sheikh Daher square , we think that there are detainees there )

35.522211,35.778415

SNHR’s members got reports that security forces evacuate security headquarters and central prison, and move them to civilians headquarters.

======================================================================

 

Sixth : Dier ez-Zor governorate:

 

– Avant-garde camp in Jorah neighborhood

https://maps.google.com.qa/maps?q=35.353776,40.106621&hl=ar&num=1&gl=QA&t=m&z=13

– Panorama’s barrier building located at the sides of Dier ez-Zoor towards Palmyra, almost 10 km far from the centre of the city, they held civilians there temporarily, then they departed to a security branch.

As Security Forces Crack Down on Supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood the Egyptian Government has Taken Steps to Outlaw the Political Party

By Kathryn Maureen Ryan

Impunity Watch, Middle East

CAIRO, Egypt – Egyptian State media reported that an improvised explosive device was detonated at a police station in Downtown Cairo wounding two workers Monday. Three people on a motorcycle reportedly threw a homemade grenade style explosive devise at the police station. There has been no claim of responsibility for the attack.

As security forces crack down on the Muslim Brotherhood and Egyptian court has recommended the dissolution of the Brotherhood as a legal non-government organization (photo courtesy of Al Jazeera)

The attack came just a day after Egypt’s state run news agency reported Sunday that former Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi will stand trial for charges of inciting murder and violence. The military backed government is essentially holding Morsi responsible for the deaths of protesters and other civilians since security forces began violently cracking down on protesters. The ousted President is also being investigated for his escape from prison during the 2011 uprising against former president Mubarak. While no formal charges have been brought, he has been accused of murder and conspiring with Hamas during his escape.

Egyptian security forces have killed hundreds of supporters of President Morsi since opponents of the coup began protesting the government after Morsi’s removal from power on July 3. Like the former president many of the protesters have been accused by the government of inciting violence and even coming terrorist attacks.

As part of its crackdown on supports of the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist political parties the military backed government has been excluding Islamists from the transitional process. The transitional government recently named a constituent assembly with almost no Islamists members. The government gave the assembly 60 days to review amendments that would repeal Islamic policies established over the last year by the Muslim Brotherhood led government and other more hard-line Islamic parties under President Morsi. The transitional government has also favoured policies that would officially raise the Egyptian military back to the elite status enjoyed under the presidency of the Military backed Dictator Hosni Mubarak.

The Nour Party has complained that the transitional government has had a deplorable policy of “exclusion of the Islamist current” in the commission of the review panel. The Nour Party was founded after the downfall of President Mubarak. The party also noted that the committee excluded members of the youth movements that ignited the revolution through social media driven demonstrations beginning on January 25, 2011.

The Egyptian government has also taken steps to outlaw the Muslim Brotherhood, returning it to the illegal status placed on the party, which won a majority of votes in Egypt’s polar vote that was forced on it under Mubarak. A judicial panel has advised an Egyptian court to dissolve the Muslim Brotherhood as a legal non-governmental organization, the mood would effectively outlaw former President Mohamed Morsi’s Political party.

 

For further information please see:

Reuters – Egypt Sends Mursi to Trial as New Constitution Advances – 1 September 2013

Al Jazeera – Bomb Blast Hits Cairo Police Station – 2 September 2013

Al Jazeera – Egypt Panel Urges Brotherhood Dissolution – 2 September 2013

CNN International – Egypt to Try Former President Mohamed Morsy in Protest Deaths – 2 September 2013

NBCNews – Improvised Bomb Wounds Two at Cairo Police Station – 2 September 2013

 

 

 

 

Mexican Authorities Arrest Members of Rival Drug Cartels

By Brandon Cottrell
Impunity Watch Reporter, North America

MEXICO CITY, Mexico  – Over the weekend Mexican authorities arrested two members of competing drug cartels.  Mario Nunez, member of the Sinaola drug cartel, was arrested on Friday for the murders of 350 people in 2011.  Alberto Carrillo, member of the Juarez drug cartel, was arrested today for drug trafficking, murder, and money laundering.  Neither Nunez nor Carrillo resisted arrest.

Mario Nunez, of the Sinaola drug cartel, was arrested over the weekend for the murders of 350 people in 2011. (Photo Courtesy MSN News).

Carrillo’s Juarez drug cartel is considered by many as one of the most powerful and violent cartels in Mexico.  As of late, however, the Juarez cartel has lost some of its drug routes to Nunez’s Sinaola cartel.  The rivalry between the cartels has contributed to the drug war in northern Mexico, where large fields of marijuana and heroin-producing poppies are located.  The drug war there has left thousands of people dead over the past few years and minimal arrests have been made in those murders.

Eduardo Sanchez, a federal security spokesman, said that “Nunez played a key role in the wave of violence that has plagued northern [Mexico] . . . and is likely responsible for the murder of more than 350 people found in 23 clandestine graves.”  Authorities believe that Nunez also hired hitmen to carry out some of the killings, which included mutilations and decapitations of the victims.

Nunez, who could face up to 40 years in prison in Mexico, is also wanted in the United States on drug trafficking charges.  It is not clear, however, if the United States will send an extradition request for him.

Over the past six years, over seventy-thousand people have died as a result of drug-related violence in Mexico, with many of the victims being civilians.  However, Carrillo’s arrest marks the third high-profile drug cartel arrest this year as authorities have intensified their campaign against the cartels.

Additionally, with Nunez’s arrest Mexican authorities have captured 63 of Mexico’s 122 most wanted and dangerous criminals.  Many of those arrests can be attributed to President Pena Nieto’s promise to tame the cartels and restore order.  However, nearly half of the Mexicans questioned in a recent poll believe that drug violence has worsened since Nieto took office in December and an another third believe that Mexico is less safe as a result of Nieto’s strategies.

 

For more information, please see:

BBC – Juarez Cartel Boss Alberto Carrillo Caught in Mexico – 2 September 2013

Daily Mail – Drug Cartel Leader Nicknamed ‘Ugly Betty’ is Captured in Latest Round of High Profile Arrests by Mexican Police – 2 September 2013

Fox News – Mexico Captures Suspected Leader Of Juarez Drug Cartel – 2 September 2013

Global Post – Mexico Detains Cartel Operator Mario Nunez Meza Tied to 350 Murders – 30 August 2013

International Business Times – Mexican Drug Lord Mario Nunez Arrested for 350 Murders – 30 August 2013

Militants Attempt to Disrupt Supply Line in Afghanistan

By Kevin M. Mathewson
Impunity Watch Reporter, Asia

NANGARHAR, Afghanistan — Militants have attacked a U.S. base in the Nangarhar province near the Pakistani border, setting dozens of parked NATO supply vehicles on fire, officials said. Dressed as Afghan police officers, three insurgents were killed after a lengthy gun battle with helicopter gunships. The incident was described as an “attempted but unsuccessful coordinated attack by enemy forces”.

NATO supply vehicles were set ablaze in the attack, blocking the supply route from Pakistan.

Ahmad Zia Abdulzia, a Nangarhar provincial spokesman, said militants wearing suicide vests and carrying weapons initiated the attack and that Afghan and U.S. forces exchanged gunfire with the insurgents until NATO helicopters joined the fight. The encounter began at approximately 6:30 A.M. and lasted three and a half hours.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, the latest in an upwelling of violence in Afghanistan. The violence is being interpreted by some as an effort by the Taliban to test the strength of Afghan forces ahead of the planned withdrawal of U.S.-led forces anticipated to occur by the end of next year.

The U.S. provides the bulk of military presence in Afghanistan with 68,000 troops, followed by the U.K. with 9,000 troops.

Officials have stated that no Afghan or U.S. soldiers were killed in the raid, and the attacks never gained entry to the base.

The financial cost of the attack to the United States is likely to be enormous.  “Our investigation shows some 41 vehicles – supply trucks and vehicles belonging to U.S. forces – were destroyed in the attack.” Abdulzai said.

The U.S. base is home to roughly 66,000 American troops along with forces from other countries. The base is an essential stopping point for NATO vehicles. The highway between Jalalabad city and Torkham, leading to the base, has been closed due to the attack.

Militants have frequently targeted the supply line through Afghanistan, leading NATO to a shift in transporting a majority of its supplies along routes in Central Asian states instead of through Pakistan.

For further information, please see:

BBC News – Taliban bombers attack US base in Afghanistan – 2 September 2013

UPI – Militants launch unsuccessful attack near U.S. base in Afghanistan – 2 September 2013

The Independent – Taliban attacks Nato base in Afghanistan – 2 September 2013

Yahoo! News – Afghan Taliban attack US base, NATO supply vehicles – 2 September 2013

Dutch-Born Former Nazi Officer Due in Court for Murdering POW in WWII

by Tony Iozzo
Impunity Watch Reporter, Europe

Former SS officer Siert Bruins, accused of murdering a Dutch resistance fighter over 70 years ago, is set to appear in court on Monday in Hagen, Germany.

Bruins is due in German court on Monday. (Photo courtesy of BBC News)

Bruins, now 92 years old, is charged with the murder of Aldert Klaas Dijkema back in September 1944, while Bruins was stationed at the Dutch-German border. Bruins could face life imprisonment if he is found guilty of the murder.

Bruins, originally from Groningen in the north-east of the Netherlands, is one of the last suspected Nazi criminals to be detained in Germany.

Another former SS officer, Heinrich Boere, was convicted of murdering three Dutch civilians during World War II back in 2010.

Bruins is accused of shooting POW Aldert Klaas Dijkema four times in the back, in September 1944 in the Appingedam area east of Groningen. Bruins has admitted being present at the scene of the murder, but denies being the triggerman to the shooting. He contends that he was marching alongside Dijkema when the shots occurred. An alleged accomplice to the murder has recently died.

“I was marching at the prisoner’s side. Suddenly I heard a shot and he fell,” Bruins has stated.

Bruins was one of roughly 30,000 Dutch citizens who worked with the Nazis during the German occupation of the Netherlands.

After the collapse of the Third Reich, Bruins was sentenced to death by the Netherlands in April 1949 for participating in this murder, as well as two other shootings, and the sentence was converted to life imprisonment. However, Bruins had become a German citizen, as Germany conferred German nationality on all foreigners who aided the Nazis during World War II. Accordingly, Dutch authorities failed to detain Bruins because he fled to Germany, as Germany does not extradite its nationals.

Bruins was, however, detained by the German authorities and sentenced to seven years in prison in February 1980 for the murder of two Jewish brothers in Delfzijl in the Netherlands in April 1945.

For more information, please see:

The China Post – Former SS Officer to Stand Trial in Germany – 2 September 2013

BBC News – Nazi Murder Trial: Ex-SS Man Siert Bruins Due in German Court – 1 September 2013

The Gulf Today – Former SS Officer, 92, to Stand Trial in Germany – 1 September 2013

Huffington Post – Siert Bruins, German Man, Charged With Nazi War Crimes – 1 September 2013

 

Yemeni Prime Minister Survives an Attempted Assassination

Darrin Simmons
Impunity Watch Reporter, Middle East

 SANAA, Yemen-Yemeni Prime Minister Mohammed Salem Basindwa survived an assassination attempt when unidentified assailants opened fire on the Prime Minister’s motorcade on Saturday while he was returning from his office.  No one was injured during the attack.

Yemeni Prime Minister Mohammed Salem Basindwa survives an attempted assassination (photo courtesy of Al Arabiyah)

Prime Minister Basindwa was appointed by President Abd Rabbuah Hadi in 2011 following the resignation of former President Ali Abdullah Saleh during a “Gulf-brokered power transfer deal.”  This is the first attack on the Prime Minister while other of his cabinet members have been targets.

With its prime location beside Saudi Arabia, one of the world’s top oil exporters with key access to international shipping routes, stability in Yemen has captured the attention of many Western countries.

However, Yemen has been experiencing numerous bouts of upheaval and turmoil in the last few years following Saleh’s resignation.  Southern and eastern Yemen have seen frequent assassinations of military and security officials in the past two years following an Islamist insurgency.

As of now, no one has claimed responsibility for the attack, however, authorities have reason to believe Al Qaeda is involved.  Yemen is home to the headquarters of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), which is considered one of the most hostile branches.

It was discovered last week, via an intercepted phone call, that Al Qaeda was planning an attack that would “change the face of history.”  Authorities believe this attack and assassination attempt are what led to the closing of many U.S. and other Western embassies in the Middle East earlier this month.

The U.S. State Department issued a statement saying “We strongly condemn this brazen assassination attempt and remain committed to supporting Yemen as it pursues meaningful and peaceful reform through its ongoing transition process.”

The U.S. has long supported Yemen with funds and logistical information while regularly using drones to hunt down wanted Al Qaeda militants.  On Friday, four suspected members of Al Qaeda were killed in a drone strike while Saturday saw five other Al Qaeda leaders killed in a similar strike.

Yemen’s Interior Ministry said that Qa’ed al-Dahab, the commander of a local Al Qaeda-linked group, has escaped the last two drone strikes and remains a central threat.

Ali al-Sarari, an aid to the Prime Minster, reported that security forces are in the process of tracking down the vehicle used in the shooting.  He further stated that Basindwa’s guards identified the license plates of the vehicle.

For more information, please see the following: 

Al Arabiya-Aide: Yemen’s PM escapes assassination attempt-September 1, 2013

Al Bawaba-Yemeni PM survives assassination attempt-September 1, 2013

Aljazeera-Yemen PM escapes assassination attempt-August 31, 2013

BBC-Yemen violence: PM Basindwa unhurt in assassination bid-August 31, 2013

Reuters-Yemen PM escapes unhurt after gunmen shoot at motorcade: aide-August 31, 2013

President Obama Seeks Congressional Authorization to Intervene in Syria

by Michael Yoakum
Impunity Watch Reporter, North America

WASHINGTON, D.C., United States – President Obama announced plans on Saturday to delay military action against Syria, opting to ask Congress to authorize strikes against Syrian chemical weapon depots.  This announcement came days after the United States accused the Assad regime of using sarin gas to kill 1400 of its own civilians.

President Obama spoke from the White House rose garden Saturday, calling on Congress to pass an authorization for the use of military force. (Photo courtesy of The Washington Post)

After laying out evidence that Bashar al-Assad’s forces were responsible for the August 21 attack in Damascus, President Obama explained that a strike against Syria’s chemical weapons depots, while important, is not time sensitive.  President Obama then surprised his advisers on the President’s National Security Council by asking for Congressional approval to make limited strikes to Syrian military targets.

The President explained that he believes a military response is necessary to demonstrate the consequences of ignoring international treaties banning the use of chemical weapons.  He noted that any military action in Syria would not involve “boots on the ground” or a prolonged occupation.

Reactions to President Obama’s decision were mixed.  Secretary of State John Kerry praised the President’s willingness to consult the People’s Representatives, calling his decision “courageous.”  While appearing on “Fox News Sunday” Kerry warned that the President would not wait for Congressional approval if there was evidence of further chemical weapon attacks.

President Obama stated that members of both parties in Congress have agreed to schedule a debate and vote as soon as Congress comes back into session September 9. Some members of Congress praise the President for seeking their authorization for military force.

Presidents are not required to seek Congressional approval for limited military interventions under the War Powers Act.

Political analysts speculate that shifting the decision to Congress allows the President to walk back statements he made to Assad last year. President Obama told Assad last year that the use of chemical weapons would be the “red line” by which the United States would be forced to intervene.

For more information, please see:

The Washington Post – Obama says U.S. will take military action against Syria, pending Congress’s approval – 31 August 2013

CBS News – Obama seeks Syria strike with Congress’ approval – 31 August 2013

The New York Times – Kerry Casts Obama’s Syria Decision as ‘Courageous’ – 1 September 2013

USA Today – Obama surprised staff with decision on Syria – 1 September 2013

CNN – ‘War-weary’ Obama says Syria chemical attack requires response – 30 August 2013

War Crimes Court to Rule on Liberia’s Ex-President

By: Danielle L. Gwozdz
Impunity Watch News Reporter, Africa

MONROVIA, Liberia – Liberia’s ex-president, Charles Taylor, faces the international court handling his appeal against his conviction for war crimes, such as aiding and abetting atrocities by rebels, in Sierra Leone.  The court will deliver its decision next month.  Taylor seeks to overturn his conviction and 50-year prison sentence.

Liberian ex-president, Charles Taylor, at hearing in May 2012 (photo courtesy of Africa Review)

Last year Taylor was found guilty of lending support to Sierra Leone rebels who raged a terror campaign during a civil war that claimed 120,000 lives between 1991 and 2001, in exchange for “blood diamonds” mined by slave labor.

The Liberian war officially ended in 2002.

The court found him guilty on 11 charges, including acts of terrorism, murder, rape, sexual slavery, and the use of child soldiers.

Taylor’s defense attorneys appealed, arguing that the judges made systematic errors during Taylor’s trial and that the sentence was too severe.  They further argued that there is no evidence linking Taylor to the crimes the rebels committed.

Prosecutor’s also appealed, arguing that Taylor personally ordered rebels to commit crimes and that his sentence was too light.  Prosecutors seek Taylor’s prison time to be increased to 80 years.

Taylor’s sentence in May 2012 was the first handed down by an international court against a former head of state since the Nazi trials at Nuremberg in 1946.

Taylor was president of Liberia from 1997 to 2003, until he was forced to resign under international pressure.  Taylor was accused of giving rebels guns and ammunition during the conflict, which judges found were known for its mutilations, drugged child soldiers, and sex slaves.

After a 3 year exile in Nigeria, Taylor was returned to Liberia in 2006 and transferred to a Special Court.

Taylor’s trial, which ended in 2011, saw a number of high-profile witnesses testifying.  These witnesses included British supermodel Naomi Campbell, who told the court she received a gift of “dirty diamonds” from Taylor.

If Taylor, who is 65, loses the appeal, he is expected to be transferred to a UK prison to serve his sentence.

For further information, please visit:

Yahoo! News – Liberia’s Taylor to hear appeal ruling on September 2627 August 2013
AllAfrica – Liberia: War Crimes Court to Rule On Charles Taylor Appeal27 August 2013
The New Zealand Herald – Court sets date for Charles Taylor appeal judgment28 August 2013
Voice of America – War Crimes Court to Rule on Charles Taylor Appeal – 27 August 2013
DailyMe – War Crimes Court to Rule on Charles Taylor Appeal Sept. 26 – 27 August 2013
Africa Review – Court to rule on Charles Taylor’s appeal case next month – 28 August 2013

 

Amidst Death of Self-Proclaimed Roma King, Roma People Remain Repressed

By Ben Kopp
Impunity Watch Reporter, Europe

BRUSSELS, European Union – Self-appointed Roma king Florin Cioaba’s funeral held thousands of people in the Romanian city of Sibiu less than a week after his death by heart attack on 18 August 2013. Throughout Europe, the Roma people continued to seek basic human rights, including shelter and safety.

Murders of Roma people to receive new investigations in Hungary. (Photo courtesy of Deutsche Welle)

In 1997, Cioaba became the self-proclaimed Roma king following the death of his father, who previously held the title. Popular among the Roma community, Cioaba supported modernization and education.

At Cioaba’s death, an estimated 10 million Roma people lived across Europe, with about two million struggling with prejudice, poverty, and illiteracy in Romania. In addition to being one of Europe’s oldest minorities, the Council of Europe has declared that the Roma are also Europe’s most discriminated against minority.

“We have seen a deeply worrying trend over the past year with entrenched discrimination against Roma reaching new heights. This is a fundamental issue that the Czech authorities can’t ignore,” said John Dalhuisen, Europe and Central Asia Program Director for Amnesty International.

On 27 August 2013, French authorities forced the eviction of 150 Roma people in a manner that Amnesty International claims is against international laws requiring “appropriate procedural protections”, “adequate alternative accommodation”, and compensation for relocated residents.

Since the open of 2013, the Czech Republic has experienced a surge of neo-Nazi activity, including anti-Roma marches and demonstrations. “The marches [are] on the increase, and people are afraid,” said David Tiser, the director of a Prague NGO. “These are not just marches by extremists. Regular citizens are joining in as well. And this is what is dangerous. This is why the foreign media are interested.”

On 24 August 2013, at least 1500 people marched through several Czech communities. In some locations, police arrested demonstrators and confiscated wooden stakes, baseball bats, and machetes. To instill fear in the Roma community, many marchers shouted, “Gypsies to the gas chambers.”

In Hungary, human rights activists and lawyers convinced officials recently to re-open a 2008-2009 series of murders against the Roma community. Throughout both years, right-wing extremists carried out nine arson attacks that resulted in six deaths and fifty-five injuries. At least one suspect remains free. Particularly, authorities will place focus on initial “failures and potential wrongdoing” by investigators. While police investigators overlooked serious suspect possibilities and may have been involved in evidence destruction, Hungarian prosecutors are also looking to military personnel who may have helped facilitate the attacks.

Every ethnicity deserves the dignity and respect granted under international human rights law, and once provided to the Roma, Cioaba’s hopes for greater modernization and education will become reality.

For further information, please see:

Deutsche Welle – Czech Neo-Nazi Marches Target Roma – August 30, 2013

Amnesty International – French Authorities Forcibly Evict 150 People, Including 60 Children – August 27, 2013

Deutsche Welle – New Investigations, Compensation for Roma Murders in Hungary – August 27, 2013

BBC News – Czech Anti-Roma Protests End in Arrests – August 24, 2013

AFP – Romania’s ‘King of Gypsies’ Buried – August 23, 2013

Reuters – Thousands Gather in Romania for Roma King’s Funeral– August 23, 2013