Guilty Pleas in International Criminal Law: Constructing a Restorative Justice Approach

By Nancy Amoury Combs | Go to book overview
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CHAPTER FIVE
Plea Bargaining at the ICTR

The ICTY and the ICTR each began its institutional life with a defendant who pled guilty, and the tribunals’ subsequent practice of plea bargaining has also followed a roughly similar path. Both tribunals obtained their early guilty pleas without the promise of sentencing concessions and under somewhat idiosyncratic circumstances. However, because both tribunals have labored of late under intense Security Council pressure to complete their work, they have begun to use plea bargaining in a deliberate and systematic way to encourage defendants to plead guilty. As Chapter 4 recounts, the ICTY has had considerable success in this endeavor, disposing of the cases of nineteen defendants by means of guilty pleas. The ICTR was slower to get started. During its first nine years of operation, it received only three guilty pleas. However, during the eighteen months between December 2004 and May 2006, ICTR prosecutors persuaded three more defendants to plead guilty and persuaded two high-level offenders to provide incriminating evidence against their former accomplices. To obtain the evidence and the guilty pleas, prosecutors had to offer defendants substantial sentencing and charging concessions. The concessions were so substantial, in fact, that they have sparked something of a backlash. Trial chambers have refused to enforce some of the terms of these deals, and the Rwandan government has harshly condemned them. The ICTR is learning, as the ICTY did before it, that aggressive efforts to obtain incriminating information and guilty pleas are likely to provoke both judicial resistance and vociferous criticism.

A discussion of the three early ICTR guilty pleas is next, and it is followed by an examination of the ICTR’s more recent and aggressive efforts to obtain

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