The International Criminal Court, created in 2002, had been investigating for more than a year into possible war crimes or crimes against humanity committed during the Russian offensive. She visibly advanced, announcing on Friday March 17 that she had issued an arrest warrant against President Vladimir Putin.
This is not the first time that the Court has decided to indict prominent political figures, particularly in Africa. But these attempts never resulted in convictions for the most serious crimes.
► Laurent Gbagbo, former president acquitted
Elected president of Côte d’Ivoire in 2000, Laurent Gbagbo held on to power in the face of a rebellion in 2002. In 2011, he was arrested after refusing to cede power to his rival Alassane Ouattara, supported by the UN and the France.
Indicted by the ICC, he is facing four counts of crimes against humanity (murder, rape, persecution and other inhumane acts) committed in the context of post-election violence in 2010 and 2011 where at least 3 000 people died. His trial began in January 2016. He was acquitted three years later by the Court, which ordered his immediate release. The judgment is then confirmed on appeal on March 31, 2021.
► Muammar Gaddafi, Libyan leader never tried
On June 27, 2011, the ICC issued an arrest warrant against Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi, in power from 1969 until his fall in 2011. It also targeted his son, considered the “de facto prime minister” Seif Al- Islam Kadhafi and his head of the secret services Abdallah Senoussi, for crimes against humanity committed since the popular uprising of February 15.
The Court accuses them of being responsible for persecutions and murders committed by the security forces against the civilian population. Died two months after the seizure of power by the National Transitional Council, Muammar Gaddafi will never be judged. The ICC will close the case with his death. His son Seif Al-Islam Gaddafi is still under an arrest warrant. Disappeared since 2014, he is considered on the run.
► Two Kenyan heads of state targeted by the ICC
William Ruto, Kenya’s current president, was dismissed by the International Criminal Court in April 2016. Then vice president, he was being prosecuted for crimes against humanity committed in his country in late 2007 and in early 2008. The disputed re-election of President Mwai Kibaki left a thousand dead and more than 600,000 displaced.
Former Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta has also been charged with crimes against humanity by the ICC. He was the first sitting president to appear before the ICC in The Hague. But the charges against him were dropped for lack of evidence in December 2014.
► Former President of Sudan Omar El Bashir has not yet been tried
The President of the Republic of Sudan from 1989 to 2019 is the first sitting head of state to have been targeted by an international arrest warrant by the ICC. First in March 2009 for “war crimes and crimes against humanity” in Darfur, then a second time in 2010 for genocide.
Omar al-Bashir, toppled in 2019 by an army coup following four months of popular protests, is being prosecuted for his role in the war in Darfur, where a rebellion broke out in 2003. The conflict has caused approximately 300,000 dead and nearly 2.5 million displaced.
For a long time, the transitional government did not authorize his extradition to The Hague. In February 2020, the government made a verbal commitment to promote the appearance of Omar El Bashir before the ICC. In August 2021, the Sudanese foreign minister indicated that the country would hand over the former president, who is currently being held in a prison in Khartoum, to the ICC. An announcement that was not followed up.
► The former vice-president of the DRC Jean-Pierre Bemba, found guilty then acquitted
Former Democratic Republic of Congo Vice-President Jean-Pierre Bemba was found guilty in March 2016 of crimes against humanity and war crimes committed by his militia, the Mouvement de liberation du Congo, between October 2002 and March 2003. He was sentenced to 18 years in prison, the heaviest sentence ever imposed by the ICC.
But the former businessman who became a warlord and then vice-president was finally acquitted on appeal in June 2018, then released. Three of the five judges of the Appeals Chamber concluded that he had been “wrongly convicted”.
Jean-Pierre Bemba was however sentenced by the ICC to 12 months in prison and a fine of €300,000, found guilty of witness tampering.
Leave a Reply