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October 11, 2015

Explosions kill at least 97 in Turkey peace rally

Explosions kill at least 97 in Turkey peace rally

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Sunday, October 11, 2015

During a peace rally in front of a train station in Ankara, Turkey, two TNT explosions killed at least 97 and injured about 246 people.

The rally was created in protest of violence between Kurdish rebels and the Turkish government. The attack may have been carried out either by the Islamic State or by Kurdish rebels, Soner Cagaptay, a researcher from the Washington Institute, said.



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October 5, 2015

Civilian deaths as U.S. bombs hospital in Afghanistan

Civilian deaths as U.S. bombs hospital in Afghanistan

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Monday, October 5, 2015

Kunduz province in Afghanistan.
Image: User:TUBS.

The location of the hospital in Kunduz.
Image: © OpenStreetMap contributors.

Twenty two civilians, including three children, died, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) reported, on Saturday after a United States airstrike hit a hospital in the city of Kunduz in northern Afghanistan. Amongst the fatalities were twelve charity staff working for MSF. MSF said there were about two hundred people in the building.

Cquote1.svg Under the clear presumption that a war crime has been committed, MSF demands that a full and transparent investigation into the event be conducted by an independent international body. Cquote2.svg

—Médecins Sans Frontières

Cquote1.svg The strike may have resulted in collateral damage to a nearby medical facility. Cquote2.svg

—United States military

A statement was issued on the MSF website criticising the attack and stating “Under the clear presumption that a war crime has been committed, MSF demands that a full and transparent investigation into the event be conducted by an independent international body.” The US military released a statement saying they had struck “against individuals threatening the force” and “The strike may have resulted in collateral damage to a nearby medical facility.” The US Government announced there would be three separate investigations, carried out by the Afghan forces, the US military, and NATO. The Afghan interior ministry claimed there had been a Taliban presence in the hospital although this was denied by the insurgent organization.

The attack was also condemned by the International Committee of the Red Cross, whilst the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, described the strike as “inexcusable” and called for a full investigation.

On September 28, the Taliban launched an assault on Kunduz. The US has been carrying out air strikes to support Afghan government forces attempting to recover the city. MSF said it had often provided the Afghan and US governments with details of the location of the hospital, particularly on September 29. The Taliban had unsuccessfully tried to capture Kunduz in April this year, but they were pushed back by government forces.



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May 30, 2012

Charles Taylor gets 50 years for war crimes

Charles Taylor gets 50 years for war crimes

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Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Liberia
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Charles Taylor, the former President of Liberia, has been today handed a 50-year sentence for war crimes in neighbouring Sierra Leone. The court previously held he financed a war which left an estimated 50,000 dead.

A school destroyed by RUF rebels.
Image: Laura Lartigue.

Taylor, 64, is considered likely to remain incarcerated for life if the sentence stands, but his legal team has vowed to appeal. The prosecution sought an 80-year sentence. Taylor’s is the first conviction of a head of state by an international tribunal since the fallout from World War Two, when the Nuremberg trials were underway.

The Special Court for Sierra Leone, which is operating from the Netherlands to avoid unrest if Taylor were tried in Africa, spent more than a year deliberating before convicting Taylor last month. Acquitted of ordering crimes or of acting in a joint enterprise to conduct them, he was nonetheless convicted of aiding and abetting the offences. There were 94 prosecution witnesses and 21 for the defence.

The allegations date to civil war in Sierra Leone, which ran from 1991 to 2002. Taylor, who had been a warlord since the ’80s, backed the rebel Revolutionary United Front (RUF). Taylor was elected Liberian president in 1997 after a different civil war concluded.

Six years later he was ousted when an arrest warrant was issued and fled to Nigeria. He was arrested there in 2006 whilst again trying to flee and went on trial later that year. Taylor, who had been facing a rebellion against him since 1999 in Liberia, received training from late Libyan ruler Colonel Muammar Gaddafi’s regime.

Testimony included claims that Taylor-backed fighters adorned roads with human intestines and ate human flesh. One claimed to have seen Taylor himself eat human liver, something Taylor denied. One described asking RUF rebels to sever his only hand in exchange for his young son’s life.

Further allegations said teenage children were involved in the fighting and that Taylor sold illegally mined diamonds to finance arms purchases for the RUF. Western celebrities Naomi Campbell, a model, and Mia Farrow, an actress, described an incident at a charity dinner held by Nelson Mandella, then South Africa’s head, in 1997. Campbell and Farrow said Taylor gifted Campbell a number of diamonds. Taylor is claimed to have ordered seizure of Sierra Leone’s diamond deposits by RUF soldiers.

It was claimed in court that child soldiers were used in conflict, as diamond mine guards, and to carry out amputations. Allegations of forced amputation were made. Taylor was convicted in late April of aiding and abetting forcing amputation, as well as rape, murder, child soldier recruitment, sexual slavery, and pillaging.

The court’s panel of judges, presided over by Judge Richard Lussick, heard a 30-minute address by Taylor at an earlier sentencing hearing. “I express my sadness and sympathy for crimes suffered by individuals and families in Sierra Leone,” said Taylor, adding he acted “with honour” and as a peacemaker, asking for “reconciliation, not retribution” in sentencing. Taylor also gave evidence at his own trial, spending seven months of testimony saying he strove for peace in the region.

Lussick noted the panel felt 80 years to be excessive given that Taylor was cleared of directly carrying out offences. However, the court found other factors aggravated the case: In particular, he was a head of state. “Leadership must be carried out by example by the prosecution of crimes, not the commission of crimes,” Lussick said in court. “The special status of Mr. Taylor as a head of state puts him in a different category of offenders for the purpose of sentencing,” the judge said, with the convict “in a class of his own”.

“[His] positions both as president of Liberia and within the west African regional bodies distinguish him from any other individual that has appeared before this court,” Prosecutor Brenda Hollis said at a sentencing hearing. “Taylor’s abuse of his authority and influence is especially egregious given that west African leaders repeatedly entrusted him with a role to facilitate peace.” She had claimed “No significant mitigating circumstances exist in this case.”

Lussick also told the court today Taylor stood convicted of “aiding and abetting, as well as planning, some of the most heinous and brutal crimes recorded in human history”. “The lives of many more innocent civilians in Sierra Leone were lost or destroyed as a direct result of his actions.” These were, the court said, crimes of the “utmost gravity in terms of scale and brutality”. The prosecution had claimed Taylor followed no more motivation beyond simple greed and power lust. Lussick said today the judges were unanimous in imposing a term of 50 years.

The defence had called for a sentence that gave Taylor a realistic prospect of eventual release. They also noted he is set to be sent to the United Kingdom to serve sentence. The defendant would be “culturally isolated”, facing a “punishment within a punishment”. At least one war crimes convict has been attacked in prison in the UK, and it is anticipated Taylor will end up in a high-security prison after the UK Foreign Office has promised to uphold an agreement to imprison him there made by ex-Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett.

“The sentence is clearly excessive, clearly disproportionate to his circumstances, his age and his health and does not take into account the fact that he stepped down from office voluntarily,” said counsel for the accused Morris Anya. The prosecution may also appeal the sentencing, and the verdict itself with intent to increase Taylor’s convictions beyond merely aiding and abetting. The defence also intends to appeal the verdict.

The appeals process means Taylor is likely to remain at The Hague for several months, where the court has been holding sessions in nearby Leidschendam. He is the last defendant to face trial before the Special Court, which has previously convicted and sentenced eight other prominent figures in the conflict.



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May 15, 2012

Bush, aides convicted of Iraq war crimes in absentia by Malaysia

Bush, aides convicted of Iraq war crimes in absentia by Malaysia

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Tuesday, May 15, 2012

This photo is believed to show Ali Shalal in Abu Ghrai; he testified before the tribunal.

The Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Tribunal in Malaysia has found former President of the United States George W. Bush and seven prominent former colleagues guilty of war crimes. Though the tribunal has no authority to detain the convicted or enforce its verdict, it recommended payment of reparations to detainees from Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib who testified before the court, and recommended they take the matter to a suitable court for enforcement.

While largely symbolic, the tribunal plans to submit its findings to the International Criminal Court and the United Nations Security Council. In addition to Bush, the court also found complicit his Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, Alberto Gonzales, David Addington, William Haynes, Jay Bybee, and John Yoo. Legal advisors for Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld were also convicted.

The court heard Iraqi engineer Abbas Abid testify about removal of his fingernails by pliers. Ali Shalal recalled being made to stand on a box whilst hooded, with wires attached to him, and whilst hanging from a wall. Mozzam Begg explained how he was beaten, and Jameelah Hameedi described being stripped, and being used as a human shield. Witnesses described lasting effects.



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May 11, 2012

Bush, aides convicted of war crimes in abstentia

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Friday, May 11, 2012

Ali Shalal, who was tortured in this way and may be the hooded man here, testified before the tribunal.

The Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Tribunal in Malaysia has found former President of the United States George W. Bush and seven prominent former colleagues guilty of war crimes. Though the tribunal has no authority to detain the convicted or enforce its verdict, it recommended payment of reparations to detainees in Guantanamo Bay and who testified before the court, and recommended they take the matter to a suitable court for enforcement.

While largely symbolic, the tribunal plans to submit its findings to the International Criminal Court and the United Nations Security Council. In addition to Bush, the court also found complicit his Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, Alberto Gonzales, David Addington, William Haynes, Jay Bybee, and John Yoo. Legal advisors for Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld were also convited.

The court heard Iraqi engineer Abbas Abid testify about removal of his fingernails by pliers. Ali Shalal recalled being made to stand on a box whilst hooded, with wires attached to him, and whilst hanging from a wall. Mozzam Begg explained how he was beaten, and Jameelah Hameedi described being stripped, humiliated, and being used as a human shield. Witnesses also explained their residual injuries.



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May 1, 2012

Bosnia jails first female war crime convict

Bosnia jails first female war crime convict

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Tuesday, May 1, 2012

This file image shows Sarajevo apartment buildings damaged in the conflict.

A court in Bosnia has jailed the nation’s first female war crimes convict. Rasema Handanović, 39, admitted six killings in the village of Trusina in 1993.

Only one other woman has been convicted of crimes relating to the 1992-5 conflict in Bosnia, Bosnian Serb ex-president Biljana Plavšić. Plavšić was jailed for eleven years by an international court in The Hague, Netherlands in 2003 and later released.

Judge Jasmina Kosović noted mitigating conditions for Handanović: She had expressed remorse for the victims, she had co-operated and given testimony for use against others in the attack, she was a war rape victim, and she had lost family in the fighting. Handanović received a five-and-one-half-years prison sentence yesterday.

Kosović noted the convict “participated with other members of her unit in the executions of three civilians and three soldiers”.

Handanović, now a United States citizen whom Bosnia extradited, was part of a firing squad. The Trusina incident ultimately left eighteen civlians and four prisoners of war dead. She provided evidence against six other members of Zulfikar, a special unit within the Bosnian and Herzegovinan Army. Handanović had earlier struck a plea bargain.



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April 26, 2012

Liberian ex-President Charles Taylor convicted in war crimes trial

Liberian ex-President Charles Taylor convicted in war crimes trial

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Thursday, April 26, 2012

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Former President of Liberia Charles Taylor was today found guilty of aiding and abetting war crimes by the Special Court for Sierra Leone in The Hague, Netherlands. Taylor was acquitted of actually ordering the offences or being part of a joint enterprise to conduct them.

A school destroyed by RUF rebels.
Image: Laura Lartigue.

The eleven-count indictment produced a four-year trial that heard allegations of rape, murder, sexual slavery, cannibalism, arms dealing, “blood” diamond trade, and use of child soldiers. Prosecution witnesses totalled 94 whilst the defence had 21 including the accused. Taylor spent his seven months of evidence claiming he was a peacemaker.

The allegations date to civil war in Sierra Leone, which ran from 1991 to 2002. Taylor, who had been a warlord since the ’80s, backed the rebel Revolutionary United Front (RUF). Taylor was elected Liberian president in 1997 after a different civil war concluded.

Six years later he was ousted when an arrest warrant was issued and fled to Nigeria. He was arrested there in 2006 whilst again trying to flee. Taylor, who had been facing a rebellion against him since 1999 in Liberia, had received training from Libyan ruler Colonel Muammar Gaddafi’s regime.

Testimony included claims that Taylor-backed fighters adorned roads with human intestines and ate human flesh. One claimed to have seen Taylor himself eat human liver, something Taylor denied. One described asking RUF rebels to sever his only hand in exchange for his young son’s life.

Further allegations said teenage children were involved in the fighting and that Taylor sold illegally mined diamonds to finance arms purchases for the RUF. Western celebrities Naomi Campbell, a model, and Mia Farrow, an actress, described an incident at a charity dinner held by Nelson Mandella, then South Africa’s head, in 1997. Campbell and Farrow said Taylor gifted Campbell a number of diamonds. Taylor is claimed to have ordered seizure of Sierra Leone’s diamond deposits by RUF soldiers.

It was claimed in court that child soldiers were used in conflict, as diamond mine guards, and to carry out amputations. Allegations of forced amputation were made.

The court, which has spent a year considering its verdicts, unanimously found Taylor guilty. It ruled Taylor knew at least from 1997 the full extent of RUF activities in Sierra Leone, and that he helped bankroll activities dealing in blood diamonds. A judge said more than a thousand youngsters had ‘RUF’ carved into their skin to prevent escape. From the moment he receives the full judgement Taylor has two weeks in which to file an appeal.

Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International welcomed the verdict, which is the first conviction of a head of state before an international court since the Nuremburg trials prosecuted Nazi leaders after World War Two. Karl Dönitz was convicted after he took brief control of Germany in the aftermath of Adolf Hitler‘s suicide.

Former President of Yugoslavia Slobodan Milosevic faced trial but died before a judgement was handed down. Laurent Gbagbo, once Presldent of the Ivory Coast, is in custody at The Hague awaiting trial before the International Criminal Court. Taylor joins eight other Special Court convicts, all of whom are from Sierra Leone. He is the first African ruler to appear in The Hague.

The Special Court was formed jointly by Sierra Leone’s present administration and the United Nations.

The Netherlands agreed the process could be held there on the condition Taylor did not serve sentence there if convicted. He is expected to be sent to the UK, where Foreign Office has promised to uphold an agreement to imprison him there made by ex-Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett.



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December 22, 2011

Two politicians jailed for life over Rwandan genocide

Two politicians jailed for life over Rwandan genocide

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Thursday, December 22, 2011

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The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), supported by the United Nations, has convicted two Rwandan politicians in relation to the Rwandan genocide of 1994.

The court has sentenced then-National Revolutionary Movement for Development (NRMD) chairman Matthieu Ngirumpatse and Edouard Karemera — at that time, Ngirumpatse’s deputy — to life imprisonment having found them guilty over their involvement in a variety of crimes including genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity, for failing to stop or punish crimes such as rape and murder committed by the youth militia of their party, the Interahamwe, in 1994.

Hutus considered to have extremist views reportedly murdered 800,000 Tutsis and Hutu moderates in the space of one hundred days, between April and July 1994. The ICTR determined that “the rapes and the sexual crimes carried out on Tutsi girls and women by soldiers and militia, including the Interahamwe, are a natural and predictable consequence of the joint criminal enterprise seeking to destroy the Tutsi ethnic group” before “unanimously condemn[ing] Ngirumpatse to life in jail” and subsequently providing a similar punishment to Karemera. Joseph Nzirorera, a third man accused alongside Ngirumpatse and Karemera, died while the trial was underway.

The ICTR found Ngirumpatse had approved weapons distribution amongst the Interahamwe in April 1994. “At that point in the genocide”, the ICTR panel stated, “it could be assumed the weapons were going to be used to kill Tutsis”.

The ICTR were set up in the city of Arusha in Tanzania with the specific purpose of trying those accused of being most responsible for the crimes relating to the Rwandan genocide. Recently, Theoneste Bagosora — suspected of being amongst those of highest responsibility in the Rwandan genocide — had his life imprisonment punishment reversed by appeal judges at the ICTR and reduced to a 35 year prison sentence. BBC News Online reported anger amongst some Rwandans over this decision for the chief of staff of the defence ministry at the time.



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December 5, 2011

Gbagbo appears at international court for alleged crimes against humanity

Gbagbo appears at international court for alleged crimes against humanity

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Monday, December 5, 2011

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Laurent Gbagbo in 2007.
Image: Voice of America.

Former Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo today appeared before the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague to hear charges against him. The ICC has charged him with four counts of crimes against humanity regarding events following last year’s Ivorian presidential election.

Following the election on November 28, Alassane Ouattara was internationally recognized as the winner, but Gbagbo maintained he had won. Subsequent violence killed about 3,000 people. Gbagbo was arrested in April.

Gbagbo is charged as an “indirect co-perpetrator” in “widespread and systematic” crimes “over an extended time period”. He was moved from Ivory Coast to The Hague last week, which his supporters called “political kidnapping”.

Human rights groups have also called for investigation of Ouattara’s supporters. ICC chief prosecutor Louis Moreno-Ocampo said “there is more to come”. UN high commissioner for human rights Navi Pillay noted that “In all of our reports, we made it clear there were violations of human rights on both sides”.

Since the ICC was established in 2002, this is the first time an ex-head of state has been brought before it. All the cases now being heard by the ICC are African, although some non-African preliminary investigations are underway. To date, the ICC has never successfully convicted anyone.



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June 24, 2011

Former Rwandan government minister Nyiramasuhuko convicted of genocide

Former Rwandan government minister Nyiramasuhuko convicted of genocide

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Friday, June 24, 2011

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Mass grave memorial for victims of the 1994 Rwandan genocide
Image: Adrignola.

A United Nations court today convicted a woman, a former minister in the Rwandan government, for her role in the 1994 genocide in the ethnic war between the Tutsi and the Hutu peoples.

Pauline Nyiramasuhuko, 65, was found guilty of seven charges including publicly inciting genocide and rape, and conspiracy to commit genocide “as part of a widespread and systematic attack against a civilian population on political, ethnic and racial grounds,” said the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), a UN backed court in Arusha, Tanzania.

Nyiramasuhuko, who was the Rwandan of Minister of Family and Women’s Affairs in Juvénal Habyarimana‘s government in 1994 when about 800,000 mostly ethnic Tutsis were killed, was convicted and sentenced to life in prison today. Her son, Arsene Shalom Ntahobali, a militia leader charged with crimes against humanity, war crimes, and rape, was also convicted and sentenced to life. Four local officials were found guilty on genocide charges and given prison sentences ranging from 25 years to life.

According to prosecutor Holo Makwaia, Nyiramasuhuko intended to “destroy in whole or in part the Tutsi ethnic group in Butare”. Following the genocide, she fled Rwanda and was arrested in Nairobi, Kenya, in 1997.

Presiding Judge William Sekule read the judgment: “Many were physically assaulted, raped and taken away to various places in Butare, where they were killed. During the course of these repeated attacks on vulnerable civilians, both Nyiramasuhuko and Ntahobali ordered killings. They also ordered rapes. Ntahobali further committed rapes and Nyiramasuhuko aided and abetted rapes.”

Nyiramasuhuko is the first woman convicted of genocide by the ICTR, which was established in 1994 after approximately 800,000 Tutsis and politically moderate Hutus were massacred during the genocide.



Related news

  • “Rwandan army officer sentenced to 25 years for genocide” — Wikinews, February 26, 2010
  • “Rwandan genocide suspect arrested in Uganda” — Wikinews, October 6, 2009

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