By: Rebecca Buchanan
Impunity Watch Staff Writer
THE HAGUE, Netherlands – On October 21st, 2020, Trial Chamber X of The International Criminal Court (ICC) released new public redacted versions of key trial decisions in the case of Al Hassan Ag Abdoul Aziz Ag Mohamed Ag Mohamed (Al Hassan).
The Al Hassan trial began on July 14th, 2020, following a lengthy Pre-Trial Phase. Al Hassan is accused of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Timbuktu, Mali between 2012 and 2013. On September 8th, 2020, the prosecution began its ongoing presentation of evidence and witness testimony.
The newly released trial documents address the inclusion of prior recorded testimony, the validity of expert witnesses for the prosecution, and the late addition of evidence to the Final List of Evidence by the prosecution. The documents, originally dated August 5th, 2020, provide valuable insight into the ongoing witness testimony brought by the prosecution, and shed light on the Chamber’s application of its own Rules of Procedure and Evidence.
On June 1st-2nd, 2020, the prosecution filed multiple requests regarding 27 proposed expert witnesses. They sought to authorize the validity and use of specific expert witnesses (noted in the document by number, rather than name), and the introduction of previously recorded testimony by additional expert witnesses pursuant to Rule 68(3). Rule 68(3) of the ICC Rules of Procedure and Evidence allows the introduction of previously recorded testimony so long as the witness is present before the Trial Chamber, the witness does not object to the inclusion of the testimony, and all parties have the opportunity to examine the witness during the trial.
The defense filed a response to the request challenging the relevance and probative value of 6 expert witnesses and objecting to the inclusion of previously recorded testimony by 8 of the prosecution’s witnesses. In its ruling, the Chamber noted that it would not determine the admissibility of evidence until the end of the trial but would offer preliminary decisions relating to Rule 68(3) and the general permissibility of certain expert testimony. The Chamber determined that 21 of the 27 proposed expert witnesses for the Prosecution would be allowed to testify. The Chamber deemed the previously recorded testimony of 12 expert witnesses admissible under 68(3) but, in service of fairness to the defense, limited the prosecution’s examination to one hour.
The June 1st-2nd, requests also included an appeal for late additions to the prosecution’s Final List of Evidence pursuant to Regulation 35 of the Regulations of the Court. Regulation 35 allows the court to extend any time limit placed upon parties when good reason is shown, or when a party can prove they were unable to file their application within the time limit for reasons beyond their control. The defense filed a response opposing portions of the prosecution’s request, noting that the prosecution had already been granted an extension on the deadline to produce evidence from April 14, 2020, to May 12, 2020. The Chamber judgment granted the addition of 11 items into the prosecution’s Final List of Evidence, none of which were objected to by the defense.
The prosecution’s presentation of evidence and witness testimony is ongoing. The defense and Legal Representatives of Victims will give their opening statements when the prosecution concludes its presentation of the case.
For further information, please see:
International Criminal Court – Al Hassan Case: Decision on the Prosecution Requests Pursuant to Regulation 35 Regarding P-0660 and P-0661 and to add 12 items to its Final List of Evidence – 21 Oct. 2020