Ben Ali fled Tunisia to Saudi Arabia in January during protests against his 23-year autocratic rule in which his family amassed substantial wealth [Reuters report] that many Tunisians say was at their expense. But Ben Ali said that he was "duped" into leaving [AFP report] the capital Tunis, according to a statement released through his lawyer. He said that he was trying to get his family out of the country after assassination threats and that the plane left him in Saudi Arabia despite orders to wait for him. Ben Ali has denied the charges against him [JURIST report] which stem mostly from allegations that he authorized the use of force against protesters during the Tunisian revolution, resulting in more than 200 deaths. Justice Minister Lazhar Karoui Chebbi [profile, in French] announced the issuance of an arrest warrant for Ben Ali in January, though the country has not received a response to its request to extradite [JURIST reports] the former leader from Saudi Arabia, where he remains in exile. Chebbi announced that Ben Ali had been charged with 18 offenses [JURIST report] in April.
[JURIST] Ratko Mladic [ICTY backgrounder, PDF; JURIST news archive] made his second appearance [video] Monday at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) [official website], but was removed from the courtroom for disrupting the proceedings. Throughout the proceedings, Mladic was hostile, gesturing to the crowd and refusing to enter a plea without lawyers of his choice representing him. The ICTY assigned Mladic a lawyer, Aleksander Aleksic, while Mladic wanted his Serbian lawyer Milos Saljic and Russian lawyer Aleksandr Mezayev to represent him. Judge Alphons Orie denied this request. Saljic has said that he could not adequately represent Mladic [Guardian report], because he does not speak English. As Orie attempted to read the charges, Mladic interrupted him and argued with the judge, contesting the court's legitimacy.
Saljic stated [AP report] that Mladic's behavior is proof he is not fit to stand trial. Mladic, in arguing with Orie, also stated that "half his body is not working" and that his head was cold and he should be allowed to wear his cap. Orie said that since Mladic has not given the court appropriate medical information, he will not be given special allowances. A plea of not guilty was entered for Mladic. Orie has not set a date for Mladic's next hearing.
Serbian authorities captured Mladic [JURIST report] in May, ending a 16-year manhunt for the former general colonel and commander of the army of the Serbian Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Mladic made his first appearance [JURIST report] last month at the ICTY, contesting the charges while simultaneously asking for more time to review them, which he was granted. Before that, he had lost his final appeal in Serbia to avoid extradition, and was transported to The Hague late Tuesday night [JURIST reports]. Mladic faces charges of genocide and crimes against humanity, including murder, political persecution, forcible transfer and deportations, cruel treatment and the taking of peacekeepers as hostages. He is most infamous for allegedly ordering the slaughter of 8,000 Muslim men and boys in the massacre of Srebrenica during the Bosnian civil war [JURIST news archive].
[JURIST] The US Department of Justice [official website] Friday filed an amicus brief [text, PDF] with the US Supreme Court [official website] in an attempt to stay the execution of Mexican national Humberto Leal Garcia [advocacy website]. Leal Garcia's defense team filed a writ of certiorari [text] with the Supreme Court earlier this week. The Obama administration has serious concerns for how the execution could affect foreign policy since it would violate Article 36 of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations [text, PDF]. The DOJ argued Leal Garcia's execution would cause irreparable harm to relations with Mexico and violate the US's obligations under international law. The brief pointed particularly to the International Court of Justice's (ICJ) [official website] decision in Case Concerning Avena & Other Mexican Nationals (Mex. v. U.S.), where the ICJ held the US violated Article 36 by failing to inform consular authorities of 49 Mexican nationals in detention. The brief argued:
Most immediately, petitioner's execution would result in serious damage to United States relations with Mexico. The United States' failure to comply with Avena has generated increasing concern by the Mexican government and thus posed an ever-greater obstacle to United States-Mexican relations. Those relations are enjoying an unprecedented level of cooperation but they are also unusually sensitive, so that a breach resulting from petitioner's execution would be particularly harmful. As explained in a letter to the Secretary of State from the Mexican Ambassador, the United States' continued non-compliance with the ICJ's decision has already placed great strain on [the] relationship between the United States and Mexico.
Attached to the brief are letters of support for Leal Garcia from several nations, including Mexico, Chile, El Salvador, Honduras, Switzerland, Uruguay, as well as the European Union [official website]. Although Leal Garcia's defense team filed for an overall review of his case in addition to the stay, the Obama administration seeks a delay of the execution until the Consular Notification Compliance Act [text, PDF] passes, thus giving Leal Garcia an avenue to appeal his conviction as a violation of his consular rights. Stays of execution can be handled singularly by the Circuit Justice for that area, in this case, Justice Antonin Scalia. Typically, though, the Justice will bring the stay to the other eight justices for deliberation. Scalia is not expected to respond until Texas' government files an answer in the stay. Leal Garcia's execution is scheduled for July 7, which Texas Governor Rick Perry [official website] has stated will go on as planned [Guardian report].
When Leal Garcia was arrested for the rape and murder of a 16-year-old girl, he was denied consular access, as required by Article 36 of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations. As a result, he was assigned a public aid attorney who had been sanctioned numerous times for ethical violations, which he contends caused his conviction. Further, the strongest evidence against him were statement he made when not in police custody, and also without access to the consulate. There was then a hearing in the ICJ, which held [judgment, PDF] that Leal Garcia was entitled to a hearing on the consular rights violation in his case. A Texas trial court differed, holding that because Leal Garcia was not in custody no one was required to contact the consulate. Last week, officials from the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) [official website] appealed [JURIST report] directly to Perry, alleging Leal Garcia did not receive a fair trial. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official profile] wrote a personal letter to Perry asking for Leal Garcia's sentence to be commuted. Former president George W. Bush denounced the sentence when he was in office, issuing an executive memoranda [text, PDF] that Texas had to comply with the ICJ's ruling in approximately 50 Mexican nationals' planned executions. The Supreme Court ruled in Medellin v. Texas [Duke Law case backgrounder; JURIST report], that Bush did not have the authority to direct a state court to comply with a ruling from the ICJ. However, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote that Congress could make the treaty binding in domestic law. Texas has already executed two Mexican nationals [JURIST report] who were denied consular access.
Feedroll provides free Paper Chase news boxes with headlines or digests precisely tailored to your website's look and feel, with content updated every 15 minutes. Customize and get the code.
Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible, ad-free format.