With the ICC on its annual summer recess, we take a look back at some major developments in the cases at the Court so far this year.
1. In the ongoing trial of Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto and broadcaster Joshua Sang judges have for the first time used their powers to summon witnesses to testify, requesting Kenyan government assistance in compelling eight previously cooperative prosecution witnesses to appear via video-link.
2. Witness issues have also dogged the trial of Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, which is due to begin this October. The original start date in February was postponed after several prosecution witnesses said they were no longer willing to testify. The Office of the Prosecutor is now trying to gain access to Kenyatta’s financial and phone records, which the prosecution believes may hold crucial evidence.
3. In the Court’s third judgment, Congolese militia leader Germain Katanga was convicted crimes against humanity and war crimes during an attack on Bogoro village in the troubled eastern region of Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in 2003. Katanga was acquitted of charges of sexual slavery and rape as well as using child soldiers. He was later sentenced to 12 years of imprisonment, from which the almost seven years he has already spent in detention will be deducted.
4. Meanwhile, the case against another DRC militia leader Bosco Ntaganda was sent to trial. He faces 18 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity in eastern DRC in 2002-2003, including using child soldiers, murder, persecution, attacks against civilians, pillaging and rape and sexual slavery.
5. After a lengthy legal battle, the highest Dutch court decided that three ICC witnesses who had sought asylum in the Netherlands should be sent back to the Democratic Republic of Congo. The three had testified in defense of Congolese militia leaders Germain Katanga and Mathieu Ngudjolo Chui.
6. ICC judges referred the DRC to the UN Security Council and Assembly of States Parties for its failure to arrest and surrender Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir during a visit in February. They subsequently invited Qatar and Ethiopia to arrest and surrender Al-Bashir—wanted for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide in Darfur—as his international travel continued unabated.
7. Narcisse Arido, a defense witness in the case against former DRC vice-president Jean Pierre-Bemba, appeared before ICC judges on charges of presenting false or forged evidence and bribing witnesses in the trial. Two of Bemba’s defense team, a DRC Member of Parliament and Bemba himself are charged with the same crimes.
8. It was announced that former Côte d’Ivoire president Laurent Gbagbo will face trial for crimes against humanity allegedly committed by forces under his control following the country’s disputed 2010 presidential elections. The leader of the Young Patriots militia supportive of Gbagbo, Charles Blé Goudé, was also transferred to the ICC. He is charged with similar crimes and is awaiting a hearing to decide whether his case should move to trial.
9. Appeals judges have confirmed that Libya can try Abdullah Al-Senussi, Muammar Gaddafi’s former intelligence chief. However, they ruled that Saif-Gaddafi must be transferred to The Hague for trial as Libya had not proven that its national investigation covers the same case as the one before the ICC.
10. The ICC prosecutor opened preliminary examinations in the Central African Republic, Iraq and Ukraine to determine if full investigations are necessary. However, it closed its preliminary examination of South Korea after finding that North Korean attacks on South Korean military targets did not meet the threshold for an investigation.
Have your say – What do you make of these 2014 developments?
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