18 January 2013

Africa: ICC Investigates Mali, Rwanda Starts Key Trial

Arusha — International Criminal Court Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda this week announced that she has opened an investigation into crimes committed in Mali. In Rwanda, meanwhile, the trial finally got under way of Léon Mugesera, a former politician extradited from Canada last year.


The Office of the Prosecutor at the ICC on Wednesday announced it has opened an investigation into alleged crimes committed in Mali since January 2012. According to an ICC statement, a preliminary investigation opened in July 2012 has determined there is reasonable basis to believe that numerous serious crimes have been committed, including murder, cruel treatment and torture, directing attacks against protected objects, summary executions and rape.


Despite three court hearings this week, the trial of Pentecostal pastor Jean Uwinkindi was unable to start as scheduled. Uwinkindi is the first genocide accused transferred to Rwanda by the ICTR. On Wednesday, the court in Kigali postponed the trial opening, pending a decision of the Supreme Court on a defence request which claims that the proceedings are unconstitutional.


On the other hand, the trial finally started in Rwanda Thursday of Léon Mugesera, a former university professor and politician extradited from Canada. This comes after almost a year of delays. Mugesera, a linguist, is charged with direct and public incitement to genocide because of a speech he delivered at a political rally in November 1992. He also faces four other charges.



Monday January 21 : The Rwandan Supreme Court will hear the arguments of the parties on the defence challenge in the Uwinkindi case. The start of his trial depends on the Court's decision.


Tuesday 22 and Wednesday 23 : The Special Court for Sierra Leone, sitting in The Hague, is due to hear appeals in the case of former Liberian President Charles Taylor. Taylor was sentenced by the lower court to 50 years in jail for his support to Revolutionary United Front (RUF) rebels during Sierra Leone's civil war. Both the prosecution and defence are appealing.

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