Archive of posts for category
International Criminal Law

Guest Post: Kontorovich on Missing Judges as a Design Choice

by Eugene Kontorovich

[Eugene Kontorovich is a Professor of Law at Northwestern University School of Law.]

What should an international court do when the judges hearing a case are not around to decide it, as has happened on the ICTY in the Seselj case that Kevin has written about?

The death or serious illness of an international judge during the pendency of a case is an entirely foreseeable matter. International criminal trials are quite long (an average of three years from the start of trial to judgement). At the ICTY, the length can be as long as nine years. The average age of judges on the Court is 62 at appointment. See the Realities of International Criminal Justice for these and other figures.

Given that proceedings are long and judges old, an empty seat on the bench should, from an institutional perspective, not be a surprise. The best way to deal with this, if one is concerned about the issue, is the designation of alternate judges. This happened at Nuremberg, and is provide for in Art 74(1) of the Rome Statute, and in the Special Courts for Sierra Leone and Lebanon, where they shall be present at each stage of the trial or appeal to which he or she has been designated.”

So the lack of a provision for such supernumeraries is a design choice or error. Certainly alternates burden an already expensive system. On the other hand, alternates are a known form of “insurance” for the continuance and integrity of international criminal trials.

So the question is who should bear the risk if the Tribunal does not “purchase” such insurance and the feared contingency occurs – the defendant or the Court (and perhaps justice). The general principle of strict construction in favor of the defendant in criminal matters would suggest imposing the costs on the Court, and yes, on international justice, which is more risk-averse (diversified across multiple cases).

Most fundamentally, because it is the officers of the Court that can best avoid such problems (by expediting proceedings) the consequences should fall on them. Of course, one does not wish to encourage hurried proceedings. So if the cost of such errors is seen as unacceptably high, alternates should be provided for in the future, or the rules requiring judicial presence relaxed.

BREAKING: ICTY Orders Immediate Execution of All Acquitted Defendants

by Kevin Jon Heller

PRESS RELEASE
(Exclusively for the use of the media. Not an official document)
The Hague, 25 December 2013
MS/PR1593e

Acquitted defendants to be immediately apprehended and executed

The Trial Chamber on Saturday issued a decision on the status of the freedom of individuals acquitted by the Tribunal. The Chamber unanimously ordered all such individuals immediately apprehended and executed.

The Chamber’s order is made pursuant to Rule 54 of the Rules of Procedure and Evidence, which provides that “[a]t the request of either party or proprio motu, a Judge or a Trial Chamber may issue such orders, summonses, subpoenas, warrants and transfer orders as may be necessary for the purposes of an investigation or for the preparation or conduct of the trial.” The Trial Chamber rejected the argument of counsel for acquittees Ante Gotovina and Momčilo Perišić, made in an October 31 motion, that Rule 54 did not apply to the post-trial phase of a case and, in any event, did not permit the Chamber to order the execution of an acquitted individual. The Chamber noted that “the trial” could be fairly read to include the post-judgment phase and pointed out that the Rule provided the Chamber with broad discretion to do whatever is “necessary.”

The Chamber also rejected the claim of defence counsel that Art. 14(3) of the Statute, which provides that “[t]he accused shall be presumed innocent until proved guilty,” prohibited post-acquittal execution. The Chamber held that the provision did not apply, because an individual acquitted by the Tribunal could no longer be considered an “accused.” The Chamber equally disagreed with the claim that the decision countenanced summary execution, noting that it had carefully considered the merits of the issue and that, as judges, the Chamber would never countenance any action that was inconsistent with the rights of the defence.

Finally, the Chamber emphasized that today’s decision was consistent with the object and purpose of the Statute, which is to combat impunity. “The Chamber cannot permit individuals to avoid justice through technicalities such as acquittal,” the judges wrote.

The Office of the Prosecutor issued a statement in support of today’s decision, citing Churchill’s suggestion that high-ranking Nazis be rounded up and shot as precedent for the Trial Chamber’s order. It also immediately filed a motion with the Trial Chamber asking it to prospectively apply the order to current trials, in the unlikely event that guilty defendants such as Karadžić or Mladić are acquitted.

PS. No actual acquitted individuals were harmed in the making of this post, which is satire. Alas, the reasoning that it makes fun of is all too real. See here, for example.

The Final Nail in the ICTY’s Coffin

by Kevin Jon Heller

So, it’s official: the ICTY Trial Chamber has decided to let Judge Niang replace Judge Harhoff on the Seselj case:

The Trial Chamber on Friday issued a decision on the continuation of the proceedings in the case of Vojislav Šešelj, following the disqualification of Judge Frederik Harhoff and appointment of Judge Mandiaye Niang to the Bench.

The Chamber unanimously ordered that the proceedings would resume from the point after the closing arguments, and move into the deliberations phase as soon as Judge Niang has familiarized himself with the file. The Trial Chamber will issue a decision once this has been completed.

The Chamber agreed that a new judge is able to assess witness testimony given in his absence through other means, including video recordings. Consequently, the Chamber concluded that Judge Niang will be thus able to evaluate the credibility of witnesses heard during the proceedings in the Šešelj case, and familiarise himself with the record of the proceedings to a satisfactory degree.

[snip]

The Prosecution argued that that the trial should continue at the deliberation stage, after Judge Niang familiarises himself with the existing case record. The Prosecution claimed that such a solution would not be unprecedented in the Tribunal’s practice, pointing to the trial of Slobodan Milosevic where Judge Bonomy replaced Judge May.

The ICTY has yet to release an English translation of the decision, but Dov Jacobs notes on twitter that the Trial Chamber claims allowing Judge Niang to participate in deliberations, despite not hearing a single witness or item of evidence, is “in the interest of justice.” By “in the interests of justice,” of course, the Trial Chamber means “in the interests of conviction,” because there is nothing remotely just about permitting a judge to decide the fate of an individual whose trial he did not attend for even a single day.

Alas, that is only one of many absurdities in the case. As I have pointed out before, the Tribunal is appointing Judge Niang pursuant to a rule of procedure, Rule 15bis, that applies only to “part heard” cases. But applying the rule as written would prevent Seselj from being convicted, so the Tribunal is simply ignoring what it says. And, of course, the OTP is playing its part by invoking the dreaded Milosevic case as precedent, conveniently ignoring the fact that Judge Bonomy was appointed to replace Judge May before the defence began its case in chief, a situation that — unlike Seselj’s — is actually covered by Rule 15bis.

But don’t worry, Judge Niang is supposedly going to spend the next six months “assess[ing] witness testimony given in his absence through other means, including video recordings,” and will thus be able to “familiarise himself with the record of the proceedings to a satisfactory degree.” Of course he will: it’s not like the trial lasted 175 days, involved 81 witnesses, included 1,380 exhibits, and generated more than 18,000 pages of trial transcript (a mere 100 pages of transcript per day, assuming Judge Niang never takes a day off and fits his reading in around the hundreds of hours of witness testimony he will need to watch).

I’ve always defended the legitimacy of the ICTY — even after experiencing first-hand in the Karadzic case how unfair the Tribunal can be at times. But no longer. Unless the Appeals Chamber does the right thing, this latest decision will forever tarnish both the ICTY’s legacy and international criminal justice more generally.

My Surreply to Ryan Goodman About Universal Jurisdiction

by Kevin Jon Heller

In my previous post, I questioned Ryan’s claim that Amnesty International’s totals concerning the number of states exercising universal jurisdiction over at least one international crime “may be significantly inflated.” I pointed out that, contrary to what he was asserting, the report did not count a state simply because it it had incorporated the Rome Statute into its domestic legislation; on the contrary, in every case it identified the specific legislative provision(s) that extended universal jurisdiction over one or more international crimes.

Ryan has replied to my post. Here is the core of his response:

Kevin agrees with one aspect of my argument. He writes, “As Ryan rightly points out, the Rome Statute is neither based on universal jurisdiction nor requires states that implement it to adopt universal jurisdiction.”

Kevin, however, disagrees with another aspect. But this disagreement is based on a misunderstanding of my argument. I accept responsibility as an author for any lack of clarity. Kevin writes, “Amnesty does not seem to be suggesting that implementing the Rome Statute simpliciter is enough to consider a state to have universal jurisdiction over the international crimes therein.”

Kevin thinks I disagree with that description. But I agree with it.

Ryan does not explain how I misunderstood his argument, and I fail to see how I did. If he does not believe Amnesty is overcounting states in its study by including those that merely incorporate the Rome Statute, what is the basis for his claim that Amnesty’s numbers are “significantly inflated”? After all, the title of his original post is “Counting Universal Jurisdiction States: What’s Wrong with Amnesty International’s Numbers.” And why did he write “Here’s what troubles me: Amnesty International appears to count states as having enacted universal jurisdiction… if the state has adopted a form of implementing legislation along with ratification of the treaty”?

Confused about what I got wrong, I asked Ryan on twitter whether he was withdrawing his claim that Amnesty’s universal-jurisdiction numbers are “significantly inflated.” He said he was not. So he still believes that at least some non-negligible number of states that Amnesty counts in its study do not, in fact, exercise universal jurisdiction over at least one international crime.

That is an empirical claim, and one that Ryan has not supported. He has yet to cite even one state that he believes Amnesty wrongly included in its study — much less enough states to justify his claim that Amnesty’s numbers are “significantly inflated.”

Is Amnesty Overcounting the Number of Universal Jurisdiction States?

by Kevin Jon Heller

Not long ago, Amnesty International released an updated version of its massive study “Universal Jursidiction: A Preliminary Survey of Legislation Around the World.” The report concluded, inter alia, that 86% of the world’s states exercise universal jurisdiction over at least one kind of international crime. (Most commonly, war crimes.)

In a post today at Just Security, my friend and regular sparring partner Ryan Goodman suggests that Amnesty’s number “may be significantly inflated” (emphasis added):

Here’s what troubles me: Amnesty International appears to count states as having enacted universal jurisdiction if the state is a party to the Rome Statute for the International Criminal Court or, more precisely, if the state has adopted a form of implementing legislation along with ratification of the treaty. Amnesty makes that decision on the stated assumption that the Rome Statute implicitly requires member states to adopt universal jurisdiction corresponding to its core crimes.

As Ryan rightly points out, the Rome Statute is neither based on universal jurisdiction nor requires states that implement it to adopt universal jurisdiction. That said, I do not believe Amnesty is doing what Ryan says it is — considering a state to have universal jurisdiction over a crime simply because it has incorporate the Rome Statute into its domestic legislation. In defense of that claim, Ryan cites a paragraph from the study’s methodology section (p. 9):

Crimes defined in national law, with reference to treaties.

In some instances, the state has defined a crime under international law, such as genocide, as a crime in national law and provided that its courts have jurisdiction over crimes in treaties it has ratified (some provisions do not specify that the treaty has to have been ratified). In those instances, the state would have jurisdiction not only over crimes in aut dedere aut judicare treaties, but treaties like the Convention for the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (Genocide Convention) and the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (Rome Statute) that do not contain an express obligation to exercise universal jurisdiction, although they may contain an implied obligation to do so. Annex I indicates that the state has jurisdiction over the relevant crime (YES).

This paragraph is not a picture of clarity, but Amnesty does not seem to be suggesting that implementing the Rome Statute simpliciter is enough to consider a state to have universal jurisdiction over the international crimes therein. What the paragraph says, I think, is that some states adopt universal jurisdiction legislation that does not specifically mention international crimes (e.g., State X shall have universal jurisdiction over genocide), but instead applies universal jurisdiction to any crime defined in a treaty ratified by that state — a much broader formulation.

More importantly, the report’s country-by-country analysis (Annex II) does not indicate that Amnesty counts a state as a universal jurisdiction state simply because it has incorporated the Rome Statute into its domestic legislation. On the contrary, the report always paraphrases the specific language in domestic legislation that supports the existence of universal jurisdiction. Consider three states — France, Kenya, and South Africa — all of which have incorporated the Rome Statute:

France

- art. 689-11 (anyone may be prosecuted by French courts who habitually resides on French territory and is responsible for one of the crimes within the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court – genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes – committed abroad, if the acts are punishable in the state where committed or if that state or the state of the person’s nationality is a party to the Rome Statute, provided that the prosecution was requested by the relevant minister, and that this official has verified that the International Criminal Court has expressly declined jurisdiction and that no international criminal court has requested surrender and no state has requested extradition)

Kenya

- International Crimes Act 2008, s. 8 (war crimes in International Crimes Act, s. 6 if the person is, after commission of the offence, present in Kenya) Crimes against humanity: International Crimes Act 2008, s. 8 (crimes against humanity in International Crimes Act 2008, s. 6 if the person is, after commission of the offence, present in Kenya) Genocide: International Crimes Act 2008, s. 8 (genocide in International Crimes Act 1959, s. 6 if the person is, after commission of the offence, present in Kenya)

South Africa

War crimes: ICC Act 2002, ss. 4 and 5 (provided that the person, after the commission of the crime, is present in the territory of the Republic and that the National Director authorises the prosecution) Crimes against humanity: ICC Act 2002, ss. 4 and 5 (see war crimes) Genocide: ICC Act 2002, ss. 4 and 5 (see war crimes)

If there are any Amnesty readers out there, please feel free to settle the dispute!

Judge Harhoff Digs Himself Deeper

by Kevin Jon Heller

The two-part series I mentioned in my previous post seems designed to rehabilitate Judge Harhoff’s image in the international-law community. Unfortunately, the articles, which draw heavily on an interview with the judge himself, simply underscore why it was necessary for the ICTY to remove him from the Seselj case. To begin with, consider what the judge says in the second article about how his infamous email, sent to 56 of his closest friends, was leaked to the press. One might speculate that one of those 56 friends might have leaked it. But not Judge Harhoff. He suspects the shadowy hand of foreign intelligence services (emphasis added):

For Mr. Harhoff, however, the rub was elsewhere. He asks: Who would have had an interest in leaking the email – and why leak it to a tabloid newspaper like B.T.?

”None of 56 recipients reads a newspaper like B.T. If one of them wanted to leak my email they would most likely have preferred more reputable newspapers such as Politiken or Information,” Mr. Harhoff inferred, “and at least they would have consulted me first.”

All 56 recipients have since given him personal guarantees they didn’t leak it. Mr. Harhoff also asked each of them whether they had forwarded his message to someone else, but not everyone responded to this question. So he believes that in all likelihood the mail was passed on to a third party unknown to him.

Who could it be?

”I am sure that all judges are having their email correspondence monitored,” Mr. Harhoff said (a suspicion shared by several other judges, as far as Information has been able to ascertain).

”It might make sense to assume that if a foreign intelligence service were able to read my email this would be a smart way to silence me by making it public”, he said.

Yes, foreign intelligence services — presumably those of Israel and the US, whom Judge Harhoff believes put pressure on President Meron to adopt the specific-direction requirement — are so worried about one judge at a tribunal with limited jurisdiction that they read his email and conspire to silence him. Makes perfect sense.

Judge Harhoff also has interesting things to say about his President Meron accusation:

During the interview, Mr. Harhoff seemed to be of two minds. On the one hand, he conceded that his contention of Mr. Meron’s possible motives was ”pure  speculation”. On the other hand, he left open the possibility that a likely explanation for Mr. Meron’s radical departure from a “more or less set practice” could be that he had somehow been influenced by outside military interests.

”In military establishments, some people might have been uncomfortable having to accept the evolving liberal jurisprudence at ICTY, since this could set a precedent for the International Criminal Court, ICC. And in the future that could make it very hard to be a general,” Mr. Harhoff said.

[snip]

In the interview Mr. Harhoff mused: ”Why was it so important for Meron to ensure the acquittal of two Croatian officers who were accused of indiscriminate shelling of towns and civilian centers?”

He wondered: ”It has been pointed out by many others that the United States strongly supported the Croats with arms and intelligence. Gotovina was only able to defeat the Serbs militarily because of the American support. Would that in any way implicate the US Army? Probably not. But we don’t know what the accused might have revealed, if he had been convicted.”

So Judge Harhoff admits that it is “pure speculation” that President Meron manipulated his fellow judges into acquitting Perisic, Stanisic, and Simatovic.(And apparently Gotovina.) But he still believes — and, worse, says to a journalist after the email scandal — that President Meron is an American and Israeli puppet.

And we’re supposed to believe that the ICTY shouldn’t have removed Judge Harhoff from the Seselj case?

Seriously, Read the Damn Perisic Judgment

by Kevin Jon Heller

I get that many people don’t like the specific-direction requirement. I understand the anger that the Perisic, Stanisic, and Simatovic acquittals have generated. I’ve even explained why, though I think the Appeals Chamber was correct to reinvigorate the specific-direction requirement in Perisic, I would have preferred a different doctrinal mechanism.

But I am really, really tired of people — journalists, human-rights activists, scholars — who cannot be bothered to actually read the Perisic judgment. I’ve blogged about basic errors before. (See here and here.) But this two-part series (here and here) on Judge Harhoff takes the cake. Consider the following quotes from the articles (emphasis mine):

In the Perisic case, the Trial Chamber’s conviction was overturned by the Appeals Chamber by adding, without further explanation, the requirement that the accused general, in addition to his military assistance and his knowledge of the commission of the crimes, should also have given the direct perpetrators a “specific direction” to commit those crimes.

In his study Mr. Stewart showed that General Perisic was the first military commander to be acquitted according to the principle that it must be proven that a general gave his subordinates “specific direction” to commit a crime. [Note: Stewart understands the requirement. The journalist here doesn't understand Stewart.]

Charles Taylor was accused and convicted in trial court of ’aiding and abetting’ war crimes in Sierra Leone’s civil war. In its decision, the Appeals Chamber questioned whether at all, under the new standard, it would be possible to prove to whom the accused would actually have given his “specific direction” to commit the crimes.

In fact, as a judge in the Trial Chamber that had convicted general Perisic in the first instance, the South African strongly opposed the majority’s conviction of the accused and wrote a dissenting opinion in which he argued that the general should be acquitted, because the Prosecution had not proven that the general had given “specific direction” to the perpetrators.

In his dissenting opinion, Judge Moloto wrote that it was not enough that general Perisic had been aware of the crimes committed by the Bosnian Serbs in Bosnia, who received arms and intelligence from the Serbian army through general Perisic. It also had to be proven that the accused had in fact ordered the Bosnian forces allied with Serbia to commit the crimes in question.

In one of the cases, two high-ranking Croatian military officers were acquitted on a mere technicality. In the other case, the Appeals Chamber acquitted a Serbian general by overturning a standard previously used in Trial Chambers to convict senior officers for ”aiding and abetting” war crimes committed by perpetrators on the ground. All of a sudden, the Appeals Chamber required that a senior officer must have given “specific direction” to commit the crimes for which the officer stands accused.

Six quotes — each completely and utterly wrong. As I have pointed out before (many times…),Perisic does not say that a perpetrator must specifically direct a crime; it says that a perpetrator must specifically direct his assistance toward a crime. Ordering and aiding and abetting are completely different modes of participation. A perpetrator can aid and abet a crime without having any direct (or indirect) communication whatsoever with the person who actually commits it. The prosecution must simply prove — in terms of aiding and abetting’s actus reus — that the perpetrator specifically directed his assistance toward the commission of a crime and that the assistance had a substantial effect on the crime’s commission.

Again, I have no problem with criticizing the specific-direction requirement. But people need to criticize what the Appeals Chamber actually held in Perisic. If you can’t be bothered to read the judgment, you have no business writing about it.

The OTP’s Remarkable Slow-Walking of the Afghanistan Examination

by Kevin Jon Heller

The Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) at the ICC just released its 2013 Report on Preliminary Examination Activities. There is much to chew over in the report, but what is most striking is the OTP’s slow-walking of its preliminary examination into crimes committed in Afghanistan.

The OTP divides preliminary examinations into four phases: (1) initial assessment, which filters out requests for investigation over which the ICC cannot have jurisdiction; (2) jurisdiction, which asks “whether there is a reasonable basis to believe that the alleged crimes fall within the subject-matter jurisdiction of the Court”; (3) admissibility, which focuses on gravity and complementarity; and (4) interests of justice, whether the OTP should decline to proceed despite jurisdiction and admissibility.

The OTP opened its investigation into the situation in Afghanistan in January 2007. Yet only now – nearly seven years later – has the OTP concluded that there is a reasonable basis to believe that crimes were committed there. And what are those crimes? Here is a snippet from the report:

23. Killings: According to the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (“UNAMA”), over 14,300 civilians have been killed in the conflict in Afghanistan in the period between January 2007 and June 2013. Members of anti-government armed groups were responsible for at least 9,778 civilian deaths, while the pro-government forces were responsible for at least 3,210 civilian deaths. A number of reported killings remain unattributed.

24. According to UNAMA, more civilians were killed by members of anti- government armed groups in the first half of 2013 than in 2012. Members of the Taliban and affiliated armed groups are allegedly responsible for deliberately killing specific categories of civilians perceived to support the Afghan government and/or foreign entities present in Afghanistan. These categories of civilians, identified as such in the Taliban Code of Conduct (Layha) and in public statements issued by the Taliban leadership, include former police and military personnel, private security contractors, construction workers, interpreters, truck drivers, UN personnel, NGO employees, journalists, doctors, health workers, teachers, students, tribal and religious elders, as well as high profile individuals such as members of parliament, governors and mullahs, district governors, provincial council members, government employees at all levels, and individuals who joined the Afghanistan Peace and Reintegration Program and their relatives. The UNAMA 2013 mid-year report, in particular, indicated a pattern of targeted killings of mullahs who were mainly attacked while performing funeral ceremonies for members of Afghan government forces.

You can see why it took the OTP nearly seven years to determine (para. 35) “that there is a reasonable basis to believe that crimes within the Court’s jurisdiction have been committed within the situation of Afghanistan.” The crimes are so minor and so isolated that they could only be uncovered by years of diligent investigation.

The OTP obviously could have moved to Phase 3 — admissibility — years ago. So why didn’t it — especially given the pressing need for a non-African investigation? See below…

Will the New RPE 134 Provisions Survive Judicial Review? (Probably Not.)

by Kevin Jon Heller

The Assembly of States Parties (ASP) has adopted three new rules of procedure — RPE 134 bister, and quater – designed to minimize the obligation of accused to be physically present at trial. The OTP will almost certainly challenge the new rules. So will any of them survive judicial review?

Rule 134bis

Rule 134bis concerns video technology:

1.      An accused subject to a summons to appear may submit a written request to the Trial Chamber to be allowed to be present in the courtroom through the use of video technology during part or parts of his or her trial.

2.      The Trial Chamber shall rule on the request on a case-by-case basis, with due regard to the subject matter of the specific hearings in question.

The fate of this provision is tricky to assess. On the one hand, virtual presence does not conflict with the various rationales the Appeals Chamber offered in Ruto for requiring the accused to be present at trial:

The accused person is not merely a passive observer of the trial, but the subject of the criminal proceedings and, as such, an active participant therein. It is important for the accused person to have the opportunity to follow the testimony of witnesses testifying against him or her so that he or she is in a position to react to any contradictions between his or her recollection of events and the account of the witness. It is also through the process of confronting the accused with the evidence against him or her that the fullest and most comprehensive record of the relevant events may be formed. Furthermore, the continuous absence of an accused from his or her own trial would have a detrimental impact on the morale and participation of victims and witnesses. More broadly, the presence of the accused during the trial plays an important role in promoting public confidence in the administration of justice.

On the other hand, Art. 63(1) contemplates physical presence, not virtual presence. Art. 63(2) elaborates on the presence requirement in Art. 63(1) by permitting the Trial Chamber to remove the accused “[i]f the accused, being present before the Court, continues to disrupt the trial” — a clear indication that the drafters of Art. 63(1) were assuming physical presence when they drafted the Article. More importantly, though — and in direct contrast to the Chair of the ASP’s claim that Rule 134bis does not conflict with Art. 63(1) because “video-conference technology (VCT)… was not foreseen when the Rome Statute was drafted” – Art. 63(2) itself contemplates the use of videoconferencing, but only when a disruptive accused has been removed from the courtroom (emphasis mine)…

The Curious Timing of the Bemba Arrests

by Kevin Jon Heller

Two of the four men arrested on suspicion of witness tampering and manufacturing evidence in the Bemba case appeared before the Court today, along with Bemba himself. Not surprisingly, defence counsel for the defence counsel focused on the various ways in which the arrests will prejudice Bemba’s case:

Meanwhile, defense lawyers for the accused stated that the new charges had harmed the defense case of Mr. Bemba, whose trial for war crimes and crimes against humanity started in November 2010.

Xavier-Jean Keita, who represented Mr. Kilolo-Musamba, said the defense would write to the judge and raise questions about the timing of the new case. The defense would also “raise issues about the consequences on the main case and also talk about the involvement of the prosecution because the Office of the Prosecutor is a fully-fledged party to the main case.”

Defense lawyers also said Mr. Kilolo-Musamba’s iPad and Blackberry were seized during his arrest, yet they contained “the entire defense strategy” in Mr. Bemba’s ongoing trial.

Cuno Tarfusser, the single judge handling the case, said the items would for now remain in the custody of the court’s registry. The prosecution would only have access to seized documents and items that related strictly to the new charges.

Mr. Kilolo-Musamba, 41, deplored the “strong-arm tactics” Ms. Bensouda employed. He said allegations of forged evidence could have been dealt with during the ongoing trial rather than through an arrest warrant.

“I was surprised to be deprived of my freedom given that I spend most of my time in The Hague within the premises of [the ICC] where I have my offices,” said Mr. Kilolo-Musamba. “If she had called me in advance, I would have attended the summons.”

He said at the time of his arrest, he was coming from a meeting related to an ongoing investigation to help him to identify handwriting experts, and radio transmission specialists who were on duty in Bangui when a disputed radio transmission was made.

“That is the issue at stake,” said Mr. Kilolo-Musamba, referring to the radio transmission and contested handwriting on an undisclosed document. “It is a shame the prosecution made use of these tactics and this way harmed the defense of Mr. Bemba in the main case, which has come to an end as we were already drafting the final submissions.”

Kilolo-Musamba’s point about the timing of the arrests is a good one. Given how easy it was for the Court to apprehend the four men — a point noted by Mark Kersten — why seek their arrest now, literally days after the defence finished presenting its evidence? There is no longer any threat of witness tampering or evidence manufacturing. All that remains is for the defence is to finish the closing briefs — a phase in which the involvement of Bemba’s lead counsel and case manager will be particularly important. The arrests couldn’t have waited a few months until the briefs were written and filed?

The question, then, is what happens now. I don’t see how the Trial Chamber can continue Bemba’s trial in the absence of the two attorneys; to expect Bemba’s other attorney, Peter Haynes QC (who is excellent), to write the closing briefs by himself is unrealistic. So if the Trial Chamber cares about Bemba’s right to a fair trial, it will have to suspend the proceedings until the new allegations are resolved. We’ll see if that happens.

The ASP’s Respect for the Rome Statute

by Kevin Jon Heller

Article 51(4) of the Rome Statute:

The Rules of Procedure and Evidence, amendments thereto and any provisional Rule shall be consistent with this Statute.

Article 63(1) of the Rome Statute:

The accused shall be present during the trial.

New Rule 134ter of the Rules of Procedure and Evidence:

An accused subject to a summons to appear may submit a written request to the Trial Chamber to be excused and to be represented by counsel only during part or parts of his or her trial.

Enough said.

A Note of Caution About the Bemba Arrests

by Kevin Jon Heller

The ICC has announced that four individuals associated with the Bemba case, including Bemba’s lead counsel and case manager, have been arrested on suspicion of witness tampering and manufacturing evidence:

On 23 and 24 November 2013, the authorities of the Netherlands, France, Belgium and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) acting pursuant to a warrant of arrest issued by Judge Cuno Tarfusser, the Single Judge of the Pre-Trial Chamber II of the International Criminal Court (ICC), arrested four persons suspected of offences against the administration of justice allegedly committed in connection with the case of The Prosecutor v. Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo. This warrant of arrest in respect of the same charges was also served on Jean-Pierre Bemba at the ICC’s detention centre, where he has been detained since 3 July 2008.

On 20 November 2013, Judge Tarfusser issued a warrant of arrest for Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo, his Lead Counsel Aimé Kilolo Musamba, Jean-Jacques Mangenda Kabongo (a member of Mr Bemba’s defence team and case manager), Fidèle Babala Wandu (a member of the DRC Parliament and Deputy Secretary General of the Mouvement pour la Libération du Congo), and Narcisse Arido (a Defence witness).

Judge Cuno Tarfusser found that there are reasonable grounds to believe that these persons are criminally responsible for the commission of offences against the administration of justice (article 70 of the Rome Statute) by corruptly influencing witnesses before the ICC and presenting evidence that they knew to be false or forged. The suspects, it is alleged, were part of a network for the purposes of presenting false or forged documents and bribing certain persons to give false testimony in the case against Mr Bemba.

Commentators are celebrating the arrests. Mark Kersten, for example, writes that they “will likely (and hopefully) have a significant impact on the conduct of counsel – both prosecution and defence – with respect to the treatment of evidence and witnesses during trial.”

If Bemba’s lead counsel and case manager are guilty of witness tampering and manufacturing evidence, they deserve to be punished. But I’ll say this: the OTP better be right. Because if they are not — and all four arrestees are, of course, presumed innocent — the Court has deprived Bemba of his right under Art. 55(2)(c) of the Rome Statute to have “legal assistance of his choosing” and crippled his defense in the middle of trial. Lead counsel plays a critical role on a defence team, and in many ways a case manager plays an even more important role. So I have no idea what happens now with Bemba’s trial — although I suspect the Court will pretend new lawyers can simply slide into the roles previously occupied by the arrested lawyers, perhaps adjourning the trial for a month or so to give the new lawyers time to “get up to speed.”

Just curious: are the commentators celebrating the arrests willing to go on record and say that, if Bemba’s lawyers are acquitted, Bemba is entitled to a new trial when he is convicted?