Friday, May 6, 2016

Where should this case be tried?

An Assam Rifles colonel and eight subordinates are being investigated by civilian authorities on charges of theft. The colonel himself is under civilian arrest. The case came to light when a civilian complained that they had stolen smuggled gold bars from him. The Assam Rifles are a paramilitary force led by Indian Army officers. Details here.

Thanks to Our Man in Chandigarh, Maj. (Ret) Navdeep Singh, for the link.

DRC rape trial suspended

The court-martial of DRC peacekeepers on rape charges has been suspended pending production, as requested by the defense, of the alleged victims and relevant medical reports. The crimes were said to have been committed while the accused were on UN duty in the Central African Republic as part of the MINUSCA mission.

Military justice journalism -- a key missing piece of information

On Monday the Nigerian Army will begin a special court-martial for two major generals. That much we know from this Premium Times article. It's of course nice to know who the accused, convening authority, president and judge advocate are and when the trial will begin, but perhaps the reporter might have been able to pry out of someone what the charges are.

Another report names yet other participants in the trial, but usefully points out that defense counsel have objected on the ground that their clients have not even been served with the charge sheet:
Speaking shortly after members of the special court were inaugurated, defence counsel, Navy Capt. [Chris] Anushiem, drew the attention of the President of the court, AVM [Air Vice Marshal James] Gbum, to the fact that his two clients, Major General [Ibrahim] Sani and himself had not been served with copies of the charge sheet spelling out the offences committed, list of evidence or list of witnesses which could lead to an ambush when General Sani's case begin.

He then requested the president of the court to direct the prosecution to provide the defence counsel of both accused the convening order, accompanied with the charge sheet, list of witnesses and list of evidence to enable them prepare adequately for their defence.
Seems like a reasonable request.

None of the members of the court-martial are from the Army.

Asian Human Rights Commission faults Indonesian leniency in assassination case

The Asian Human Rights Commission has published the following statement about an Indonesian military justice case:
The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received updated information regarding the trial process into the case of the assassination of Mr. Jopi Teguh Lasmana Peranginangin (39), an environmental activist. Military judges have convicted the defendant with light punishment, and no further consideration has been made for the other military personnel involved in the case. The Military prosecutor, since the beginning of the trial, has only chosen to prosecute one navy personnel and ignored involvement of other accused. According to witnesses, it was four or five personnel who brutally attacked Jopi. 
On 11 April 2016, Military judges of the Military Court II 08 Jakarta convicted Private-in-Charge (Praka) Joko Lestanto, a member of the Marine Corps’ Amphibious Reconnaissance Battalion (Yon Thaifib Marinir TNI AL), to two years in prison and dishonorable discharge from Navy service. 
The defendant was charged under Article 338 of the Indonesia Penal Code (KUHP), which has a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison. The Military prosecutor had however only chosen to prosecute the defendant for up to five years in prison, and now the Military judges have only finally sentenced the defendant to two years in prison. 
The light sentence also proves that investigation undertaken by the Navy Military Police (POMAL) did not meet the standard of proper investigation. Despite many witnesses having stated that more than four people (without uniform) attacked Jopi, the investigation resulted in only one Navy personnel being charged. 
This also indicates that under the Law No. 31 of 1997 on the Military Court, the Court does not apply fair trial principles and, the Court become part of impunity, where serious crimes, such as murder and torture, are sentenced with light punishment, without remedy for the victims. Moreover, the families of victims, in many cases, also face difficulties in accessing the Court. 
Furthermore, we have learned that some cases of criminal offences conducted by Military personnel, under massive media coverage, will be conducted immediately so as ensure that command responsibility of the commander is evaded. 
Considering the recurrence of criminal offences conducted by Military personnel, the Parliament should continue its initiative to amend the Law No. 31 of 1997 on the Military Court. One serious problem in the law is that location and time (locus and tempus) of the criminal offense conducted by the military personnel will not be considered. The Military Court will apply its jurisdiction in any circumstances, even if the victims are civilians and the crime has taken place in a public area. 
The last debate in Parliament concerning amendment of the law on Military Courts was about the role of the Military Prosecutor. Broadly there were two opinions that emerged: the first one is that the prosecution responsibility should be given to the public prosecutor, and if the criminal offense occurs in the public area the case should be tried in the civilian court. The other view stated that the Military Court shall have jurisdiction over any criminal offense conducted by military personnel anywhere.

Khadr bail conditions relaxed

A Canadian court has significantly relaxed the conditions of Omar Khadr's release on bail. Khadr was convicted by a U.S. Military Commission at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. Details here.