Sunday, April 20, 2014

Readership progress report

In a mere six days, Global Military Justice Reform has had over 1000 hits and added readers in four more countries (82 as of this morning). Comments, on the other hand, remain sparse. If you have any thoughts on the posts, please comment -- and remember to give your name. If you know of pertinent developments (pending or decided cases, legislation, news, meetings, or professional writing), send a link to the editor (Gene Fidell) or any of the other GMJR contributors shown at the lower right side of the page.

Above all, thanks to everyone -- readers and contributors -- for your interest in military justice reform.

Sierra Leone mutiny trial begins

Pres. Ernest Bai Koroma
The prosecutor's opening statement in the mutiny court-martial being tried in Freetown is reported here. The accuseds' goal, he contended, was to overthrow the government of Sierra Leone and remove President Ernest Bai Koroma.
"He said all the accused persons agreed upon methodology, planning and tactics to disturb senior officers and that some of the plans they had wanted to introduce include, converting Sierra Leone into a hot spot, dividing Sierra Leone, plans not be opened to negotiation during the mutiny, execute Cabinet Ministers, not to accept any deal, subjecting the country to alert, exerting fraud and dictatorship and advance to establish coup and political change."
The defense has waived opening argument for the time being.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Tunisian chief of military justice fired

Pres. Moncef Marzouki
Moncef Marzouki, interim president of Tunisia, has fired the country's director of military justice. The action, reported here, came a few days after the Military Court of Appeal sentenced several former officials who were convicted of killing protesters--the Martyrs of the Revolution--during a 2011 revolution. Judge Ali al-Fontasi was named as the new director of military justice. Five other defendants were acquitted. The court's decision was criticized for being too lenient. One press account reported:
The Military Prosecution called, Monday, on various parties to keep the military justice away from disputes and not to use the verdicts pronounced in the cases of martyrs and wounded of the Revolution as a means to question the integrity of the military justice.
The Criminal Chamber of the Military Appeal Court which pronounced the verdicts offers all guarantees of independence, the military prosecution indicated in a statement.

People's Liberation Army legal reform

Susan Finder's Supreme People's Court Monitor has this must-read post about the latest development regarding the administration of justice in the People's Liberation Army: issuance of a "Legal Protection Opinion" on improving protection of the rights of the military, military personnel, and dependents. The document itself is not (yet?) available, so systemic transparency remains a serious issue. 

More trouble with the Guantánamo military commissions

Today's New York Times includes this report on the latest in a string of problems with the slow-moving military commissions being conducted at the U.S. Naval Station, Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. This time it involves the Federal Bureau of Investigation:
"The F.B.I.’s inquiry [into the defense counsel for the accused 9/11 plotters] became the focus of the pretrial hearings at Guantánamo this week, after the [security] contractor [assigned to one of the teams of defense counsel] disclosed it to the defense team. It was a reminder that, no matter how much the proceedings at the island military prison resemble a familiar American trial, the invisible hand of the United States government is at work there in ways unlike anything seen in typical courtrooms."

Friday, April 18, 2014

Luftwaffe military justice in World War II

Former Reichskriegsgericht
Light reading it isn't, but fascinating and well worth the time: Capt. Edith Rose Gardner, Military Justice in the German Air Force During World War II, 49 J. Crim. L., Criminology & Police Sci. 195 (1958). Exclusive military jurisdiction over offenses by military personnel was abolished in 1919. During the Weimar Republic period offenses were tried in the civilian courts. Prosecutors were civilians, but military lawyers protected the interests of the accused. "Only the units of the Navy afloat were permitted to retain the traditional concept and function of military law." P. 196. The Nazi government reinstituted military justice by a May 12, 1933 decree. Capt. Gardner concluded, surprisingly, by observing that "the military justice system of the former [German Air Force] may prove a satisfactory guide for the present forces of the Federal Republic of Germany." P. 211.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Markin v. Russia's continuing aftershocks

Konstantin Markin
Konstantin Markin is one persistent hombre. Consider this summary of his years-long struggle in the Russian military and constitutional courts and the European Court of Human Rights over parental leave from his duties as a radio intelligence officer in the Russian Army -- and this one of the jurisprudential fallout as of the end of 2013. Additional background can be found in this article by William E. Pomeranz of the Kennan Institute.