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

By Nancy Amoury Combs | Go to book overview

CHAPTER SIX
Plea Bargaining at the Special Panels in East Timor

In 2001 the United Nations established Special Panels for Serious Crimes to prosecute crimes relating to East Timor’s 1999 vote of independence from Indonesia. From their inception to their closure in 2005, the panels convicted eightyfour defendants, and as time went on, an increasingly large proportion of those convictions came about by means of guilty pleas. After an overview of criminal prosecutions at the Special Panels and an overview of the panels’ early guilty-plea cases, this chapter will trace the evolution that has occurred in plea bargaining over the panels’ life span.


Overview of Criminal Prosecutions and Early Guilty Pleas

Following the violence that engulfed East Timor in the fall of 1999, the U.N. established the U.N. Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET) as a peacekeeping mission to administer East Timor until its independence was viable.685 As part of its administration, UNTAET established Special Panels for Serious Crimes, granting them jurisdiction to prosecute those accused of genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity, along with certain violent domestic crimes, such as murder, sexual offenses, and torture.686 The prosecutorial arm of the Special Panels, known as the Serious Crimes Unit, issued its first indictments in 2000, and virtually all of its early indictments charged domestic crimes, under the Indonesian Criminal Code, rather than international crimes. Subsequent indictments charged crimes against humanity, and by the time of its closure

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