03 Feb Breaking: Pre-Trial Chamber Must Reconsider Genocide Charges Against Bashir
As I predicted, the Appeals Chamber has rejected the Pre-Trial Chamber’s interpretation of the “reasonable grounds” standard:
Appeals judges said the court was wrong to conclude in March that there was insufficient evidence to merit charging al-Bashir with three genocide counts. Instead, it had charged him with seven counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity for allegedly orchestrating a campaign of murder, torture, rape and forced expulsions in Darfur province.
The standard of proof the court sought for genocide charges “was higher and more demanding than what is required” in its statutes, appellate judge Erkki Kourula of Finland said Wednesday.
The decision likely paves the way for al-Bashir to be indicted with humanity’s worst crime – attempting to wipe out entire ethnic groups in the war-ravaged province.
I will have much more to say about the decision soon. The decision is available here.
POSTSCRIPT: I’m glad the Appeals Chamber reached the correct conclusion, but it’s absurd that it took them nearly eight months to issue an 18-page decision (13 of which are simply background). This was — at least from a legal perspective — an easy issue. The AC should not have kept the OTP, Bashir, and the rest of the world hanging so long.
It makes sense that the Appeals Chamber took the time on this decision, and priortized other judgments in the same term higher than this decision. It was the only judgment delivered in the last six months which would not have any impact on a case currently pending at the Court.
I think one factor that could justify, or at least help explain, the time it took the AC to issue its judgment is that there were many “Proceedings on Appeal” from the date leave to appeal was granted by the PTC (24 June 2009) to when the AC granted victims a/0443/09 to a/0450/09 the right to participate in the appeal (28 January 2010). See paras. 6-11 of the AC’s Judgment.