National Prosecutions


Philippines congresswoman Imelda Marcos, the widow of dictator Ferdinand Marcos, on Thursday withdrew her candidacy for the governorship of the Ilocos Norte region after her conviction for graft made her ineligible to hold public office. On November 9, the anti-corruption court found Imelda Marcos, 89, guilty of seven counts of corruption while she was the governor of Manila (1975-86) and sentenced her to between 6 and 11 years in prison for each charge.


The conviction of a former Guatemalan soldier involved in the mass killing of villagers in an infamous massacre during the country’s civil war has been welcomed by the UN human rights office, OHCHR. Spokesperson Liz Throssell told journalists in Geneva that the ruling against Santos López Alonso—one of only six military personnel to have been convicted—was “another important step” for transitional justice in Guatemala.


During a forum held in Bogotá, Colombia, on November 1, 2018, ICTJ launched the Spanish-language version of its Handbook on Complementarity: An Introduction to the Role of National Courts and the ICC in Prosecuting International Crimes. The Deputy Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), James Kirkpatrick Stewart, gave the keynote address.


For the first time, two leaders of Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia have been convicted of genocide. His deputy Nuon Chea, 92, and head of state Khieu Samphan, 87, faced trial on charges of exterminating Cham Muslim and ethnic Vietnamese communities. This was the first genocide verdict given by the UN-backed tribunal on Pol Pot’s brutal 1975-1979 regime. Up to 2 million people, mostly from the Khmer majority, are believed to have died during those four years.


Kenyan media house Africa Uncensored has teamed up with the International Center for Transitional Justice (ICTJ) on a documentary that explores the Bulla Karatasi massacre that took place in the northern region of Garissa, Kenya, and its impact on communities in the North. The documentary will advance ICTJ’s efforts to partner with civil society on community-state dialogue initiatives, engage stakeholders around political and constitutional reforms stemming from the TJRC’s recommendations, and achieve redress for the legacy of state violence in Garissa and other communities in Northern Kenya. 


A court refused to grant early release to former Serbian paramilitary commander Dragan Vasiljkovic, alias Captain Dragan, convicted of war crimes against Croatian civilians and prisoners of war in 1991. Vasiljkovic’s lawyer Tomislav Filakovic applied for conditional release because the former paramilitary has served about 94 percent of his war crimes sentence. But the court said it turned the request down because Vasiljkovic remains unrepentant. “The inmate denies committing the criminal offence and considers his sentence undeserved,” the court said in a statement released on Thursday.


The decision by the Zagreb County Court in Croatia to reduce the sentence of convicted war criminal Marko Radic has caused a political storm in Sarajevo. The judgment, which cut Radic’s sentence from 21 years to 12 and a half years in prison, was handed down by the court on October 1. It amended a verdict originally delivered by a Bosnian state court in Sarajevo, which convicted Radic of crimes against humanity in March 2011.


The indictment of a senior Guatemalan government official concerning his alleged participation in police death squads has reopened deep questions about President Jimmy Morales’ security cabinet. On October 29, the Attorney General’s Office of Guatemala accused Kamilo Rivera, the deputy minister of the interior and the president’s main connection to the National Civil Police (PNC), of forming death squads within the Guatemalan state over a decade ago. Rivera has now gone missing.


The prosecutor at the Hague-based Specialist Chambers visited Kosovo for the first time, but Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj said there is a sense of skepticism about the new court that will try suspects for wartime crimes, even though the court is operating under Kosovo law. Senior former Kosovo Liberation Army figures are expected to be indicted by the new court for alleged crimes—including killings, abductions, illegal detentions and sexual violence—committed during and after the war with Serbian forces, but local jurisprudence may be an obstacle to successful prosecution.


South Korea’s top court stirred decades-old resentments that threaten to inflame relations with Japan, ordering a leading Japanese steel maker to compensate four South Korean men forced to work as slave laborers during World War II. The ruling, which the Japanese government quickly denounced, laid bare the lasting bitterness over Imperial Japan’s occupation of Asian neighbors 73 years after the surrender to allied powers.