CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Libyan Supreme Court Upholds Death Sentences for Dr. and Nurses Who Intentionally gave Children AIDS

From The Libyan Supreme Court today once again upheld the death sentences imposed on five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor who were accused of intentionally infecting more than 400 Libyan children with the AIDS virus in 1998.

The court rejected the results of a 2003 investigation by two of the world’s leading AIDS experts, which found that unsanitary medical conditions at Benghazi Children’s Hospital were to blame for the children becoming infected with HIV. The nurses and doctor have now been in jail for nearly a decade.

Still, their fate remained uncertain today, despite the court’s ruling on the one hand, and months of recent negotiations to secure their release on the other. The European Union and the United States have repeatedly pressed the Libyan government to free the six, and groups of Nobel laureates have visited Tripoli to plead their case with the Libyan leader, Moammar Ghaddafi. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

July 11, 2007 in International | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, July 9, 2007

Bosnian Muslim War Crime Trials Begin

From A former Bosnian army commander accused of letting his Muslim fighters kill dozens of Serbs and Croats will be acquitted if judges refuse to allow more witnesses to testify, prosecutors said Monday as his trial began.

Retired Gen. Rasim Delic, one of only a handful of Muslims indicted by the U.N.'s Yugoslav war crimes tribunal, is charged with murder, rape and cruel treatment. Prosecutors say Delic failed to prevent foreign Islamic fighters known as mujahadeen gunning down prisoners and beheading others during the Bosnian war.

Prosecutors indicted him on the basis of command responsibility _ arguing he knew about the mujahadeen's crimes but failed to prevent or punish them.

"He had a duty to act," prosecutor Daryl Mundis said in his opening statement. "He failed in that duty and as a result crimes were committed and perpetrators were allowed to escape justice."

In order to speed the trial, judges curtailed the number of witnesses prosecutors can call to 55 from the 91 originally requested.

"If we are required to start the trial under these conditions, the likely outcome would be acquittal," Mundis told judges at the Yugoslav war crimes tribunal. "We are not in a position to be able to prove our case with 55 witnesses."

Prosecutors last week sought more time and witnesses, but judges insisted the trial start and said prosecutors could ask for more witnesses later.

Delic surrendered to the court after he was indicted in 2005 and has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

The tribunal is under increasing pressure from the United Nations, which pays the multimillion-dollar court bill, to finish its work quickly. The court is due to finish its trials by 2008 and round off all appeals and shut down in 2010. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

July 9, 2007 in International | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, July 2, 2007

Pakistani President Runs into Set Backs With Attempt to Remove Chief Justice

From Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf's attempt to remove Pakistan's chief justice received a setback Monday when a Supreme Court judge rejected government evidence and ordered a sweep of courts and judges' homes for spying devices.

Musharraf suspended Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry on March 9 for alleged misconduct, sparking a legal tussle that has fueled growing opposition to military rule.

Last week, the government filed a thick file of evidence against Chaudhry with the Supreme Court, which is examining the judge's appeal of his suspension.

But at a hearing Monday, the presiding judge rejected the documents and reprimanded a senior government lawyer for presenting "vexatious and scandalous" material.

Justice Khalil-ur-Rehman Ramday provided no details on the contents of the file, but referred to concerns raised by Chaudhry's lead counsel, Aitzaz Ahsan.

Ahsan said the file contained photographs taken inside Chaudhry's home as well as anonymous complaints and derogatory remarks about senior judges. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

July 2, 2007 in International | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Mexico Fires Federal Police Chiefs

From Mexico replaced the federal police chiefs from each of the country's 31 states and the Federal District on Monday, pending polygraph and drug tests to determine whether they are on the right side of the law in the nation's foundering drug war.

The surprise purge of top leaders of the federal police and an elite federal investigations agency comes as Mexican President Felipe Calderon seeks traction in a 6-month-old campaign against drug traffickers that has neither stemmed killings nor slowed shipments.

Corruption among local, state and federal law enforcement has for years given cover to drug smuggling gangs, now at war over access routes to the United States, and over Mexico's growing domestic markets.

"Every federal cop is obliged to carry out his post with legality, honesty and efficiency," Public Safety Secretary Genaro Garcia Luna said at a news conference Monday announcing the housecleaning. "In the fight against crime, we have strategies. One axis of our strategy is to professionalize and purge our police corps." Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

June 26, 2007 in International | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, June 25, 2007

Chemical Ali Sentenced to Death

From Three senior aides to Saddam Hussein were found guilty on Sunday of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity by the Iraqi High Tribunal and sentenced to death by hanging for their roles in the slaughter of as many as 180,000 Kurds in northern Iraq in the late 1980s.

The most notorious of the defendants, Ali Hassan al-Majeed -- a former general known as "Chemical Ali" -- received five death sentences for ordering the use of deadly mustard gas and nerve agents against the Kurds during the so-called Anfal campaign. Majeed and Hussein were cousins.

Some Kurds said after Sunday's hearing, which was nationally televised, that they felt deprived of justice because of the rush to execute Hussein. The government had hoped his quick death would allow Iraqis to put the past behind them and focus on transforming the country into a functioning democracy.

"I wished they had kept Saddam alive and had not executed him until they finish all the trials, so all Iraqis, including Kurds, could feel that they had been repaid for the injustices of his regime," said Saman Mahmood Aziz, 55, a teacher whose wife and five children died during the Anfal campaign. But he added, "We feel so happy after seeing the verdict today against Chemical Ali." Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

June 25, 2007 in International | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, June 18, 2007

Rwanda Abolishes the Death Penalty

From On Friday, Rwandan lawmakers voted to abolish capital punishment. Once law, it could encourage the transfer of war crimes suspects to face trial back home in Rwanda.

The move comes as the international war crimes tribunal for Rwanda, sitting in neighboring Tanzania, nears the end of its mandate next year. As many as 800,000 Tutsis and Hutu moderates were massacred during Rwanda's 100-day genocide in 1994. The tribunal — which has been hearing most of the high-profile genocide cases, but has a huge backlog — is beginning to wrap up business.

The Rwandan government has been frustrated at the slow pace of genocide trial proceedings in Tanzania. But the existence of the death penalty on the statute books has been a major concern for the International Criminal Court for Rwanda, as well as for countries holding genocide suspects or fugitives, believed to be at large in North America, Europe and West Africa.

The decision by the Rwandan parliament to scrap capital punishment would also mean that death sentences on 800 death row suspects within the country would be automatically commuted to live imprisonment. Listen. . . [Mark Godsey]

June 18, 2007 in International | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, June 7, 2007

University of Indonesia CrimProf Ali Hamzah Tries to Save Three Members of the Bali Nine

From Three members of the Bali Nine on death row should be spared the death penalty because the prosecutor in their case never requested the maximum penalty at trial, says University of Indonesia CrimProf and former prosecutor Ali Hamzah.

He testified yesterday in the Denpasar District Court that it was "not normal" under law for their sentences to be increased, under appeal, from 20 years to death.

The trio – Matthew Norman, Si Yi Chen and Tan Duc Thanh Nguyen – were all convicted of their role in the 8.2kg heroin haul and sentenced originally to life behind bars.

On appeal the sentence was cut to 20 years but on a further prosecution appeal to the Supreme Court, the country's highest court, it was increased to the death penalty. Six members of the Bali Nine are on death row. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

June 7, 2007 in International | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Guantanamo Detainees Charges Dismissed

From Charges against two Guantanamo detainees accused of chauffeuring Osama bin Laden and allegedly killing a U.S. soldier in Afghanistan were dismissed Monday. In both cases, military judges ruled that only "unlawful" enemy combatants can be tried by the military trials. The ruling is a major setback for the Bush administration. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

June 5, 2007 in International | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, May 31, 2007

CrimProf Michael Scharf and Students Assist in Prosecution of Former Liberian President

Scharf_smCase Western Reserve University School of Law CrimProf Michael Scharf and students have played a central role in the events leading to the international trial of former Liberian President Charles Taylor, which is set to start on June 4. Taylor will be tried by the Special Court for Sierra Leone (sitting at the International Criminal Court in The Hague) for his role in the commission of crimes against humanity in Sierra Leone, which were portrayed in the Academy Award-nominated film "Blood Diamond" starring Leonardo DiCaprio.

Shortly after the Special Court for Sierra Leone was established by an agreement between the United Nations and Sierra Leone in 2002, its chief prosecutor, David Crane, contacted Case law professor Michael Scharf requesting assistance. Scharf, a former U.S. State Department official who knew Crane from Crane's days as dean of the Army JAG School, runs the War Crimes Research Office at Case, which provides legal assistance to several international tribunals. Scharf has also provided training to the judges of the Rwanda Tribunal, the Iraqi High Tribunal that recently convicted the late former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, and most recently the Cambodia Tribunal.

With a scant budget, small staff, and no library, Crane and his colleagues in Freetown relied on the students at Case to write lengthy research memoranda on the most difficult legal issues facing the Tribunal. Since then, the Case War Crimes Research Office has produced more than 30 memoranda for the Tribunal, including one that Crane has said "was absolutely critical to proving that the former Liberian president was not protected by the doctrine of Head of State Immunity."

Armed with the Case memo, Crane issued a controversial indictment of Taylor while Taylor was attending a peace negotiation in Ghana in June 2003. Citing the authorities that the Case students supplied, the Tribunal held that Taylor did not have immunity, setting the stage for his eventual arrest and trial. [Mark Godsey]

May 31, 2007 in International | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, May 6, 2007

FBI Investigates 1997 Cuban Bombing

From FBI agents recently traveled to Havana to try to gather evidence about a 1997 hotel bombing in the Cuban capital that might be linked to Luis Posada Carriles — a Cuban exile and a former CIA informant.

Government sources say the unusual trip by FBI investigators was motivated by an investigation of Posada by a federal grand jury in New Jersey. Posada falls under the grand jury's jurisdiction because he is thought to be connected to two New Jersey men implicated in the 1997 bombing.

The 79-year-old Posada is the Leonard Zelig of U.S.-Cuban relations. It seems that wherever there have been turning points between Washington and Havana, Posada has been there. He is militantly opposed to Fidel Castro and has been trying to topple his regime — even trying to assassinate him — for more than 40 years. He was a Bay of Pigs veteran and a former CIA operative and, more recently, because of his anti-Castro activities, an international fugitive.

The Department of Justice has been torn about how to handle him. The Bush administration has been handling him with kid gloves, in part because of his past relationship with the U.S. intelligence community. He is also very popular in the influential Cuban-American community, which sees him as an anti-Castro crusader. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

May 6, 2007 in International | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

United Nations Special Prosecutor Will Speak at Drake Law School

StephenrappStephen Rapp, LW'74, The Prosecutor of the United Nations Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL), will return to Drake Law School Thursday, April 12. He will meet with students and faculty and deliver a lecture titled "The Compact Model in International Criminal Justice: The Special Court for Sierra Leone," which is free and open to the public.

The Special Court, an independent tribunal established jointly by the United Nations and Sierra Leone, is tasked with bringing to justice those responsible for atrocities committed during a civil war in the west African country after November 1996. The Special Court has jurisdiction over the case against the notorious former Liberian President Charles Taylor, whose trial will be held at The Hague in the Netherlands.

Prior to joining the SCSL, Rapp served as chief of prosecutions at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) from May 2005 until December 2006, supervising the prosecution of those accused of the worst crimes during the 1994 Rwandan genocide.

Rapp worked previously as a U.S. attorney in the state of Iowa for almost eight years. He also spent time as an elected member of the Iowa Legislature and as a lawyer for the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee.

Rapp is best known internationally for successfully prosecuting media executives who helped incite the Rwanda's extremist militia as well as broadcast the whereabouts of Tutsi sympathizers -- a conviction that scholars say sets important precedent for future cases before the International War Crimes Tribunal at The Hague.

"We’re thrilled Stephen Rapp is returning to Drake Law School," said Law School Dean David Walker. "His work is extraordinarily important, and we are immensely proud and grateful for the work he does and all that he has achieved." [Mark Godsey]

April 3, 2007 in International | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, March 18, 2007

10 Iraqis' Clever Plan To Trick British Authorities: Switch Spots With a Visitor

From Ten Iraqis being held in a British military detention center in Basra carried out an audacious escape plan over the past several days: they switched places with visitors, British authorities said.

An 11th detainee was missing, but no one appeared to have been substituted for him, British authorities said. The detention center is at a British base on the outskirts of Basra.

The escape came to light on Thursday, when it became apparent that “one person was not who he said he was,” said a spokesman, speaking on condition of anonymity. The military began to investigate and found that nine other detainees were also substitutes. The real ones had walked out the door, apparently after swapping clothes with their willing stand-ins, British officials said.

The substitutions were carefully plotted, and the imposters “were remarkably well prepared,” the spokesman said. “They looked the same,” he said. “They knew the stories of the people they were substituting for. It was quite a sophisticated effort, very carefully planned.”

Because none of the detainees who escaped had yet been charged with a crime, the British military would not provide any details about their cases or the facility in which they were held, including its size or the length of time that they had been held there.

British officials said that security was now tighter, but that when detainees received visitors before, there had been little monitoring.“They are allowed a large number of visitors, and we are not allowed to stand over them when they are visiting them,” the spokesman said.

There has been no decision how to deal with the imposters, but they are likely to be charged with having assisted the escape, the military spokesman said. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

March 18, 2007 in International | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, March 12, 2007

Police Brutality on the Streets of Zimbabwe

From Police assaulted and tortured Zimbabwe's most prominent opposition leader after breaking up a protest prayer meeting, leaving him with deep gashes on his head and shoulders, colleagues said Monday.

The organizers of the ''Save Zimbabwe'' meeting -- an alliance of opposition, civic, church leaders and student and anti-government groups -- said lawyers reported that Morgan Tsvangirai fainted three times after being beaten by police. The Save Zimbabwe Campaign also said another opposition leader, Lovemore Madhuku, was taken to the main Harare hospital early Monday after collapsing from police assaults. He was reported in serious condition.

At least four other opposition and civic leaders were beaten and tortured in custody, the campaign said.

Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change said his wife was allowed to see him Monday in a suburban jail and reported the wounds. Susan Tsvangirai reported her husband was heavily bandaged, said his deputy, Movement for Democratic Change vice president Thoko Khupe. Some of the wounds were sutured and an eye was badly swollen.

''This is not consistent with the normal police brutality we have witnessed. The injuries were deliberate and an attempt to assassinate him,'' said Eliphas Mukonoweshure, another top opposition official. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

March 12, 2007 in International | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (1)

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

France Abolishes the Death Penalty

From The French parliament voted to amend the country's Constitution to include an explicit ban on the death penalty. In a special joint session held at the Palace of Versailles, France's National Assembly and Senate passed the amendment by a vote of 828-26. T

he death penalty has been outlawed in France since 1981, but the recently passed amendment officially inscribes the prohibition into the constitution.  "We are accomplishing the wish of Victor Hugo in 1848, the pure, simple, irreversible abolition" of the death penalty, former Justice Minister Robert Badinter told lawmakers. More. . . [Mark Godsey]

March 7, 2007 in International | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, February 26, 2007

CrimProf Knut Amelung Will Represent Siblings Fighting German Incest Law

From A German brother and sister who live together and have had four children have filed an urgent suit with Germany’s constitutional court demanding the “right” to incest and have retained retired University of Dresden CrimProf Knut Amelung as their legal counsel.

Patrick S, 30, has already received a suspended jail term for incest, followed by a 25-month actual jail term. He now faces a 30-month sentence because he has continued the relationship.

He and his sister Susan K, 22, have posed in the German media for romantic photos together. She has also received a first conviction of incest and was placed on probation for one year.

They did not grow up together, but first met in 2000 when Patrick S, who had been adopted, looked up his birth mother and first met his sister. The relationship began when the sister was 16. Under German law, incest is only punishable after the age of 18.

Of their four daughters aged between 5 years and 22 months, two were born with handicaps, but prosecutors have been unable to prove this had genetic origins.

The spokeswoman said the court in the city of Karlsruhe which decides whether German laws conform with the constitution would issue a provisional ruling quickly on whether to stay the term of imprisonment.

CrimProf Knut Amelung will argue that a ban on sex between siblings breaches their civil rights and is a “relic of the past.” An appeal court in Dresden rejected an appeal by the man last month.

Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

February 26, 2007 in International | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Canada Strikes Down Indefinite Detention Law for Terror Suspects

From Canada’s highest court on Friday unanimously struck down a law that allows the Canadian government to detain foreign-born terrorism suspects indefinitely using secret evidence and without charges while their deportations are being reviewed.

The detention measure, the security certificate system, has been described by government lawyers as an important tool for combating international terrorism and maintaining Canada’s domestic security. Six men are now under threat of deportation without an open hearing under the certificates.

“The overarching principle of fundamental justice that applies here is this: before the state can detain people for significant periods of time, it must accord them a fair judicial process,” Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin wrote in the ruling.

The three men who brought the case are likely to remain jailed or under strict parole because the court suspended its decision for a year to allow Parliament to introduce a law consistent with the ruling.

The decision reflected striking differences from the current legal climate in the United States. In the Military Commissions Act of 2006, Congress stripped the federal courts of authority to hear challenges, through petitions for writs of habeas corpus, to the open-ended confinement of foreign terrorism suspects at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.

A federal appeals court in Washington upheld the constitutionality of that law this week, dismissing 13 cases brought on behalf of 63 Guantánamo detainees. Their lawyers said they would file an appeal with the Supreme Court. In two earlier decisions, the justices ruled in favor of Guantánamo detainees on statutory grounds but did not address the deeper constitutional issues that this case appears to present. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

February 25, 2007 in International | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Italy Indicts American CIA Agents

From An Italian judge indicted 26 Americans on Friday, most of them C.I.A. officers, in what will become the first trial of the American program of secretly whisking away terror suspects. Italy’s former top spy was also indicted.

Despite the indictment, issued by a judge in Milan, it is unlikely that any of the Americans, one of whom is an Air Force colonel, will ever face trial here. The trial is expected to take place in June.

The indictments came in connection with the case of a radical Egyptian cleric, Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr. The cleric, known as Abu Omar, disappeared near his mosque in Milan on Feb. 17, 2003, and said he was kidnapped.

He was freed this week from jail in Egypt, where he says he was taken and tortured.

The indictment marked a turning point in Europe, where anger is high at the American program of “extraordinary renditions,” an aggressive policy of seizing suspected terrorists on foreign soil and interrogating them at secret locations in a third country. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

February 18, 2007 in International | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, February 4, 2007

Stealing a Kiss is Literally a Crime in Israel

From Israeli CrimProf Yoram Rabin recently discussed the Israeli law that makes forced kissing of a unconsenting woman an illegal act.

"There is no doubt that a forcible kiss could be an indecent act," said Dr. Yoram Rabin. "This article is intended to protect a person, usually a woman, form having her body used for sexual purposes against her will. I have fears about criminalizing courtship practices, but the danger is not the indecent acts article, but the flawed law against sexual harassment and the prosecution's problematic policy of indicting in borderline cases."

The courts have convicted dozens of defendants of indecent acts for having forcibly kissed women. In most cases, however, the act was accompanied by other, sometimes graver, sexual assaults.

For example, Haim Hamiel, husband, father and grandfather, invited his neighbor to his apartment on August 22, 2001, ostensibly to see his new furniture and help him cook. After she entered, he held her face and tried to kiss her. She fled from his apartment.

Hamiel denied the kiss, saying he embraced her because she stumbled over a table and almost fell. He said that his conduct was devoid of any sexual connotations. But the Tel Aviv Magistrate's Court believed the complainant and convicted him, giving him a three-month suspended sentence and ordering him to pay the complainant NIS 1,000 in compensation.  Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

February 4, 2007 in International | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Jurist Guest Luis Moreno-Ocampo Discusses Struggles as International Criminal Court Chief Prosecutor

LuismorenoocampoFrom the JURIST Special Guest Columnist Luis Moreno-Ocampo, Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court at The Hague, says that since he began work in late 2003 his office has already faced and met several key challenges in bringing to justice persons suspected of committing war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity. Here is the Introduction to his piece:

I took office as Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court in November 2003. As we begin 2007, I would like to take the opportunity to reflect on my office’s achievements and some of the main challenges we have faced.

In the last three years, the Office of the Prosecutor has opened three investigations, collected evidence amidst on-going violence, requested arrest warrants and secured the arrest of a major suspect. In accomplishing these results, the Office had to overcome considerable obstacles. Specifically, I would like to detail the three major challenges the Office has faced in relation to its core activities of investigating and prosecuting crimes under its jurisdiction. Each challenge has necessitated creative thinking and innovative solutions.  Read. . . [Mark Godsey]

January 28, 2007 in International | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, January 26, 2007

Italy: Holocaust Deniers to Face Criminal Penalties

Just in time for Holocaust Memorial Day in Italy, which is honored tomorrow, Italy's government has agreed to make denying the Holocaust a crime and to stiffen prison sentences for those found guilty of inciting racial hatred. Initially conceived to target Holocaust deniers, the bill was broadened to include all forms of intolerance after some members of the ruling centre-left coalition had expressed reservations about the appropriateness of using the criminal code to honour the millions of Jews killed in the Shoah. Nonetheless, the bill draft received unanimous approval by the Italian cabinet.  With approval from the parliament, the bill will become an official law, and those found guilty of spreading ideas about a race being superior to another would now risk up to three years in prison while acts designed to incite racial, ethnic, religious or sexual violence would be punishable with a maximum four year prison sentence. Germany, which currently holds the European Union's rotating presidency, is pushing to make denying the Holocaust a crime in all member states. Full Story from . . [Michele Berry]

January 26, 2007 in International, Race | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)