Photo: radiookapi.net via Bing (CC).
Photo: radiookapi.net via Bing (CC).

ICC begins Appeals hearing in Bemba case; defence says TC erroneously dismissed key evidence: On Tuesday, 9 January 2018, the first Appeals hearing in the case of The Prosecutor v. Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo took place before the Appeals Chamber of the ICC. The Appeals hearings will continue to take place until Friday, 12 January 2018 and on Tuesday, 16 January 2018 in order to hear submissions and observations in relation to Bemba’s appeal against his Conviction Decision. In June 2016, Bemba was sentenced to 18 years of imprisonment, convicted of committing two counts of crimes against humanity and three counts of war crimes while acting as a military commander with effective authority and control over the Movement for the Liberation of Congo (MLC). On the first day of the hearing, Bemba’s lawyer accused the Trial Chamber of having adopted an “unbalanced” approach to evidence by ignoring what he deemed “important evidence on central issues”, such as the testimony of a retired senior military officer. In the appeal filed before the court, Bemba’s defence team also argued that the judges’ “findings on effective control fall far outside established military doctrine and practice”, questioning the applicability of the command-responsibility principle used by the Chamber in formulating its judgment. (Appeals Chamber Order, News24)

ICC, The Hague. Photo: sputnik news via Bing.
ICC, The Hague. Photo: sputnik news via Bing.

Reports of Israeli National Security Council warning Knesset of opening of ICC investigation into settlements: It has been reported that Israel’s National Security Council warned the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee that the ICC could open an investigation this year into the situation into the 2014 Gaza war and the West Bank settlement construction. In particular, Channel 10 news reported that a secret presentation entitled “Strategic Situation Assessment for 2018” was submitted to the Knesset, and it included a concern that the ICC will move from the examination phase and open a formal investigation into 2014’s Operation Protective Edge and construction in the West Bank. In January 2015, the ICC Prosecutor announced the opening of a preliminary examination into the situation in Palestine, after the government of Palestine accepted the jurisdiction of the court over alleged crimes committed “in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, since June 13, 2014”. The preliminary examination, still underway, serves to help determine whether the Rome Statute criteria for opening an investigation are met. (MiddleEastMonitor, Times of Israel)

Germany arrests Bosnian Serb suspected of war crimes; initiate extradition: Prosecutors in Sarajevo reported that on 8 January 2018 German authorities arrested a former member of the Bosnian Serb forces suspected of war crimes during the war in the early 1990s. In a statement, the prosecutor’s office confirmed that the suspect, Milorad Obradovic, was arrested in the Munich region on an international warrant from Sarajevo, and that German authorities have already launched procedures for his extradition to Bosnia. The 51-year-old is accused of allegedly being involved in the detention and later execution of about 120 Bosnian Muslim civilians near the city of Prijedor in July 1992, at the start of the conflict, and of personally killing three detained civilians at Prijedor’s municipal football stadium. (RFERL, Expatica)