[JURIST] Cambodian students and Buddhist monks protested Tuesday in Phnom Penh, asking the Extraordinary Chambers in the Court of Cambodia (ECCC) [official website] to quickly begin trials against former leaders of the late-1970s Khmer Rouge communist regime [backgrounder] for crimes against humanity. Over 600 demonstrators took to the streets over concerns that the trials are moving too slowly and that many former Khmer Rouge leaders in UN custody could die before trials are actually held.
The Khmer Rouge are generally held responsible for the genocide of an estimated 1.7 million Cambodians [PPU backgrounder] who died between 1975 and 1979. The ECCC was established by a 2001 Cambodian law [text as amended 2005, PDF] authorizing the investigation and trial of surviving Khmer Rouge officials, but to date, no top officials have faced trials. The first trials are expected in 2008. AP has more. BBC News has additional coverage.
[JURIST] Italian police have arrested former Uruguayan naval intelligence officer Nestor Jorge Fernandez Troccoli for crimes relating to the kidnapping and murder of Italian citizens and others who opposed South American military dictators during the 1980s, according to Italian media reports Monday. The Italian government has issued over 140 arrest warrants for various members of the dictatorships who coordinated their efforts at suppressing dissidents in what was called Operation Condor [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive]. Italian officials have also asked Argentina to extradite Argentina's former military leader Jorge Videla for crimes connected to Argentina's Dirty War [Global Security backgrounder].
The Dirty War (1976-1983) was a seven-year campaign by the Argentinian government to suppress Videla's opponents. It has been estimated that 30,000 people were kidnapped, tortured, or killed during the Dirty War. In March, a court in Rome convicted in absentia five former officers of the Argentinian military on charges of torturing, kidnapping and murdering three Italian citizens during Dirty War operations, sentencing them to life imprisonment [JURIST report]. AP has more.
[JURIST] An Israeli military prosecutor has concluded that Israel's use of cluster bombs [FAS backgrounder] during the 2006 Lebanon war [JURIST news archive] was justified and did not violate any standards of international law, according to an Israeli army statement released Monday. Maj. Gen. Gershon HaCohen found that "the use of this weaponry was legal once it was determined that, in order to prevent rocket fire onto Israel, its use was a concrete military necessity." HaCohen's findings were delivered to Brig. Gen. Avihai Mandelblit, who has decided not to press charges against Israeli officers who authorized the use of cluster bombs.
Human rights groups have denounced the use of cluster bombs [Cluster Munition Coalition advocacy website] in civilian areas by both Israel and Hezbollah during the 2006 conflict because of the inaccuracy of the weapons and the strong possibility of hitting unintended targets. Cluster bomblets have been responsible for 30 deaths [BBC report] since the conclusion of the Lebanon war. Cluster munitions are considered by many to be weapons designed to spread damage indiscriminately and could therefore be considered illegal [CMC backgrounder] under multiple provisions of Protocol I [text] of the Geneva Conventions (1977). AP has more.
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