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Archive for February, 2009

By George Obulutsa
DAR ES SALAAM, Feb 27 (Reuters) – A U.N. court trying the masterminds of Rwanda’s 1994 genocide jailed a former military chaplain for 25 years on Friday for sexual assault and killing ethnic Tutsis who sought sanctuary at a seminary.

Emmanuel Rukundo is one of two clergymen the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) indicted for their role in the 100-day slaughter in which troops and Hutu militia butchered 800,000 minority Tutsis and politically moderate Hutus.

“The Trial Chamber … found Rukundo guilty of genocide, murder as a crime against humanity and extermination as a crime,” the ICTR said in a statement.

The Arusha, Tanzania-based tribunal said Rukundo, who was often escorted by soldiers and militiamen during the violence, kept a list of local Tutsis whose movements he monitored.

As well as being involved in the abduction and murder of villagers seeking sanctuary at a seminary, it found the 50-year-old guilty of sexually assaulting a young Tutsi woman.

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FREETOWN, 26 February 2009 (IRIN) – The Special Court for Sierra Leone on 25 February convicted three former leaders of the Revolutionary United Front (RUF), marking the first time a court has convicted on the charge of “forced marriage”. 

After a four-year trial, the tribunal found former RUF interim leader Issa Hassan Sesay and RUF commander Morris Kallon guilty on 16 of 18 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity, and former RUF chief of security Augustine Gbao on 14 counts. 

All three men were convicted of forcing marriage on women. The court also set a precedent by charging all three for war crimes for targeting humanitarian and peacekeepers in direct attacks.

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DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania (AP) — The U.N. chief acknowledged Thursday that a widely expected arrest warrant for Sudan’s president in connection with atrocities in Darfur could result in a political fallout and urged him to protect peacekeepers and civilians.

There are fears of reprisals after the International Criminal Court makes it decision set for Wednesday. The court’s prosecutor asked a three-judge panel in July to order Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir’s arrest on charges of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.

“Whatever happens (al-Bashir) must protect U.N. personnel” and act responsibly, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said before a roomful of diplomats who came to hear a wide-ranging speech on African issues.

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LEIDSCHENDAM, Netherlands (AP) — A tribunal that will prosecute suspected assassins of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri will probably request the transfer of suspects from Beirut, an official said Tuesday.

Robin Vincent, the tribunal’s registrar, said the prosecutor has 60 days from the date the court formally opens on Sunday to request suspects be turned over for trial.

The court’s Canadian prosecutor, Daniel Bellemare, has recently indicated he plans to request the transfer of suspects, Vincent said. He gave no further details of the suspects that could be sent to the Netherlands.

No one has been charged in the suicide bombing that killed Hariri and 22 others, although four pro-Syria Lebanese generals have been under arrest in Beirut for more than three years for alleged involvement.

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BBC News, 24 February 2009

Ex-UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has warned Kenya not to delay any longer in setting up a special tribunal to try ringleaders of post-election violence.

In letters to Kenya’s president and PM, he warned the hold-up could jeopardise Kenya’s stability and prosperity.

Mr Annan said he would refer the matter to the International Criminal Court (ICC), as planned, if the court was not established within a reasonable time.

Kenya’s parliament failed to establish the tribunal on 12 February.

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Associated Press, 26 February 2009

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — U.N. judges acquitted former Serb President Milan Milutinovic on Thursday of ordering a deadly campaign of terror by Serb forces against Kosovo Albanians in 1999.

But the Yugoslav war crimes tribunal convicted five other senior Serbs and gave them prison sentences of between 15 and 22 years in the court’s first judgment for Serb crimes in Kosovo.

Milutinovic’s acquittal was a blow to prosecutors who three years ago failed to convict former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic of similar crimes because he died of a heart attack before his trial ended.

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BBC, 25 February 2009

A war crimes court has found three Sierra Leone rebel commanders guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

RUF leaders Issa Sesay, 38, and Morris Kallon, 45, were convicted of 16 of the 18 charges, while Augustine Gbao, 60, was found guilty on 14 of the counts.

The Freetown trial of the RUF rebel leaders, related to Sierra Leone’s 10-year civil war, began in mid-2004.

The court had heard how the trio were involved in the rape, mutilation and murder of civilians.

It was the last case to be held at the special court.

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