German Art Collector Says $1 Billion “Nazi-Looted” Art Collection is Rightfully His

by Tony Iozzo
Impunity Watch Reporter, Europe

MUNICH, Germany – Cornelius Gurlitt, the German owner of over 1,400 artworks believed to have originally been stolen by the Nazis during World War II, has stated that he is the legal owner and will not voluntarily hand over the paintings.


The collection is thought to be worth over $1 billion. (Photo courtesy of BBC News)

Gurlitt stated that the paintings had been acquired legally in an interview with Der Spiegel magazine. The collection is estimated to be worth over 1 billion dollars. It was found in Gurlitt’s Munich apartment back in March 2012.

The collection includes paintings by Marc Chagall, Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Otto Dix and Max Liebermann. Experts opined that many of the paintings and sketches are in excellent condition.

The works were discovered in Gurlitt’s home in March 2012 during a routine tax inspection. Most are believed to have been seized by the Nazis from their owners during World War II, and were long thought to have been lost or destroyed.

Gurlitt inherited the collection from his father, Hildebrand. Hildebrand was an art dealer who sold works which had been confiscated or bought by the Nazis, and Gurlitt contends that this latest collection was rightfully acquired. Authorities are conducting investigations to establish who the possible original owners of the paintings may be.

Gurlitt, 80, had been silent regarding the collection since the authorities discovered it, until now.

“I’m giving nothing up voluntarily,” he stated in the interview when asked whether he would return any works to their original owners. Gurlitt contended that his father obtained the works legally. He also accused authorities and the public of misrepresenting him, stating that he had already provided the authorities with enough evidence to remove any suspicion from him.

German prosecutors have said they do not have “any strong suspicion of a crime that would justify an arrest.”

Jewish groups have complained at the length of time it took the German authorities to unveil the artworks. Their existence became public at the beginning of November. Jewish families and museums believe the paintings were taken from them by the Nazis and are calling for their return. The collection is being held at an undisclosed location for the time being.

For more information:

ABC News – Hoarder of Nazi-Looted Art Treasures Calls Paintings the Love of His Life – 17 November 2013

BBC News – Nazi-Looted Art: German Collector Says He Owns Pictures – 17 November 2013

Haaretz – Munich Art Collector Spent His Life Among His Paintings and No One Else – 17 November 2013

CNN – Who Were the Mystery Men Behind Germany’s “Nazi-Looted” Art Haul? – 11 November 2013



DR Congo Officers on Trial for Rape and War Crimes

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

KINSHASA, Democratic Republic of Congo – About 39 to 41 military officers have been accused of war crimes. They are now on trial in eastern DR Congo.

Soldiers on trial for rape and war crimes (photo courtesy of BBC).

Most of the charges relate to the mass rape and other acts of sexual violence against more than 130 women and girls in November 2012 by a retreating army.

The charges also include murder and looting, governor of North Kivu province, Julien Paluku, told AFP. He also said that judges had arrived from Kinshasa, the capital, to reinforce those in Goma, the eastern regional hub where the trial is taking place.

Correspondents say the military trial comes after months of international pressure after 23 soldiers were initially suspended but not charged.

The UN then threatened to stop funding army units suspected of abuses.

A high-ranking police officer said the tribunal’s verdict will be final. “There’s no appeal. They are definitely convicted, or if they are to be freed, they are freed.”

The soldiers at trial are mostly low-ranking officers.

According to a UN report, at least 102 women and 33 girls were victims of rape or other acts of sexual violence by government troops in the market town to the south of Goma.

The UN, in an interview, has explained that many families were and are separated as a result of those experiences. That raped women find themselves isolated and the harmony within the families broken. Entire communities become weakened and divided. This leads to an atmosphere of fear where the rebels become more powerful.

In October of this year, the UN peacekeeping force MONUSCO lamented that: “Almost a year after these incidents, none of the presumed perpetrators of these human rights violations has been brought to justice . . . in spite of the Congolese authorities’ commitment to persecute the perpetrators.”

Soldiers, who requested anonymity, admitted to the BBC in April that they had raped women in Minova, but said that they acted under orders from above.

The DR Congo government signed an accord with the UN in April to step up the fight against sexual abuse by armed soldiers and groups, which remains rampant.

The trial opens barely three weeks after the UN-backed Congolese army defeated the M23.

For more information, please visit:

BBC News – DR Congo officers in rape and war crimes trail – 20 November 2013
The Daily Star – Forty-one DR Congo soldiers go on trial for rape – 20 November 2013
allAfrica – Congo-Kinshasa: Q&A – Why ‘Rape Victims Must Talk About Their Trauma’ – 20 November 2013
Modern Ghana –
Forty-one DR Congo soldiers go on trial for rape – 20 November 2013
Wopopular – Congo Soldiers Tried For Mass Rape – 20 November 2013

Nepal Votes to Elect New Constituent Assembly Despite Bomb Threats and Violence

By Brian Lanciault
Impunity Watch Reporter, Asia

KATHMANDU, Nepal–Voters gathered outside polling booths across Nepal Tuesday to elect a Constituent Assembly that will attempt, yet again, to draft a constitution.  The interim government hopes to finally bring stability to the Himalayan nation.

Security personnel were deployed in force this past week to secure polling centers against various bomb threats as Nepal seeks to elect a new Constituent Assembly to draft a constitution. (Photo Courtesy of AP).

Candidates from over 100 political parties and several independent ones are competing in the election. The assembly will also double as a parliament and select a government. Nepal has 12 million registered voters.

Police said there were no reports of violence Tuesday morning. But, explosions rocked the capital in Kathmandu and other cities Monday night. Two people were injured in the explosion in Katmandu. Police believe the two suspects were supporters of an alliance of 33 opposition parties which have been attempting to disrupt and shut down the election.

Nepalese officials assured the public that security was formidable and tight, stating that they should have no fears of voting.

“We assure the voters we have done all that is necessary to ensure there will be free and fair election,” Nepal’s Chief Election Commissioner Neel Kantha Upreti told reporters, adding there was “more” than enough security.

The government ordered a four-day public holiday to allow voters to return to their villages in the mountainous country.

However, the opposition party alliance has been enforcing a nine-day transportation blockage to prevent voters from reaching the remote villages. The opposition appears upset at the appointment of a Supreme Court judge-led government in March, saying the larger parties have denied them any opportunities in the decision making leading up to the election.

There were several attacks on public vehicles that had defied the transportation embargo. A truck driver was killed and two dozen people have been injured in these attacks.

The previous Constituent Assembly was elected in 2008, following the end of a 10-year Maoist revolution and the overthrow of the centuries-old monarchy.

But the assembly was sabotaged by infighting and never finished its work. The result has been a power vacuum that left the country without a proper constitution for almost seven years.

Some of the disagreements center on whether to divide the country into a federal system based on ethnic groups or strictly by geography. But the parties mostly squabble over who gets to lead the country.

Analysts predict none of the political parties is likely to get a majority in the election. Any coalition government formed between two or more parties would face the insurmountable task of writing a constitution where each clause garners approval from two-thirds of the assembly. In a country with more than 100 ethnic groups and languages, this is a tall order.

The United Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), the party of former communist rebels, hopes to repeat the last election and emerge as the largest party. Its main competitors are the Nepali Congress and Communist Party of Nepal (United Marxist Leninist).

Rastriya Prajatantra Party Nepal, which seeks to revive a Hindu nation and bring back the monarchy, also hopes to win a chunk of the seats in the assembly.

For more information, please see:

BBC News– Nepal voting ends for new Constituent Assembly— 19 November 2013

Times of India– 12 million divided Nepalese expected to vote for stability— 19 November 2013

Al Jazeera– Bomb blast at Nepal polling booth— 19 November 2013

Bangkok Post– Nepal defies bombing, braves threats in post-war poll— 19 November 2013

War Crimes Prosecution Watch: Vol. 8 Issue 17 – Monday, 18 November 2013

International Criminal Court

Central African Republic & Uganda

Darfur, Sudan

Democratic Republic of Congo



Cote d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast)


International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda



Special Court for Sierra Leone


Court of Bosnia & Herzegovina, War Crimes Chamber

International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia

Domestic Prosecutions in the Former Yugoslavia

Middle East and Asia

Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia

Bangladesh International Crimes Tribunal

War Crimes Investigations in Burma

North and South America

United States

South and Central America








Gender – Based Violence


UN Reports

Truth and Reconciliation Commissions

Northern Ireland




Commentary and Perspectives

Worth Reading