TL_Leaders_Facing_Justice
Timeline

Leaders Facing Justice

1945 – 2013

Since 1945, many regime leaders and key figures have been brought before domestic and international courts to answer to charges including genocide, corruption, and crimes against humanity, amid a larger struggle to promote and enforce the rule of law worldwide.

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High-ranking Nazi defendants sit in the dock of the courtroom at the Nuremburg war crimes trials. Reuters
High-ranking Nazi defendants sit in the dock of the courtroom at the Nuremburg war crimes trials. (Reuters)
Nuremburg Trials

In the midst of World War II, the Allies issue a joint declaration in 1942 noting the mass execution of Jews occurring under the German Nazi regime and calling for the perpetrators to face punishment. Three years later, the Nuremberg Trials, the first international war crimes trials, begin in an attempt to bring surviving leaders of the Nazi regime and engineers of the Holocaust to justice. The trials last four years, beginning with the Major War Figures Case which comes before the International Military Tribunal established by the Allied forces. Eleven of the total twenty-four defendants are sentenced to death. The United States conducts twelve additional trials, known as the Subsequent Nuremberg Proceedings, which result in sixty-five convictions and more than twenty death sentences.

Former prime minister of Japan Hideki Tojo sits in the witness chair before the Tokyo war crimes tribunal. Bettmann/Corbis/AP Images
Former prime minister of Japan Hideki Tojo sits in the witness chair before the Tokyo war crimes tribunal. (Bettmann/Corbis/AP Images)
Tokyo War Crimes Trials

Under the watch of U.S. Supreme Commander Douglas MacArthur, the International Military Tribunal of the Far East prosecutes twenty-eight high-ranking Japanese leaders for war crimes committed during World War II, including the killing and inhumane treatment of prisoners of war and civilian internees, as well as destruction and mass murder of civilian populations in other countries. The most famous case is the conviction and execution of former prime minister Hideki Tojo. All of the defendants are found guilty.

The Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo human rights group shows pictures of missing relatives during a demonstration in Buenos Aires. Reuters
The Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo human rights group shows pictures of missing relatives during a demonstration in Buenos Aires. (Reuters)
Argentina's Trial of the Juntas

The Argentine government initiates trials for members of the military that ruled during the "Dirty War" (1976 to 1983), for mass kidnappings and killings of left-wing activists, political opponents, and sympathizers. The Trial of the Juntas is the first in Latin America to bring former dictators to justice by a civilian, democratic government. In December 1985, several former military officials are convicted for crimes against humanity, with a life sentence for former de facto president General Jorge Videla. However, the next two presidents grant immunity for the remaining officers charged and pardons all those previously convicted. In 2003, President Nestor Kirchner replaces several members of Argentina's Supreme Court, which overturns the amnesty law in 2005 and pardons in 2007, prompting trials to restart. In June 2012, Videla is convicted for the kidnapping of babies from political opponents and sentenced to fifty years in prison. He dies in May 2013 while serving his sentence.

Slobodan Milosevic sits in the courtroom during his trial at the International Criminal Court. Paul Vreeker/Reuters
Slobodan Milosevic sits in the courtroom during his trial at the International Criminal Court. (Paul Vreeker/Reuters)
International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia

A UN Security Council resolution establishes the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia to try those responsible for mass killings of Bosnian Muslims and Croats, as well as other civilians, in the Balkans beginning in 1991. The most famous defendant is former president Slobodan Milosevic, whose trial begins in 2002. Milosevic is the first former head of state to be tried for war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide; however, he dies in a UN detention center in 2006 before his trial can be concluded. Between 1993 and 2012, the tribunal indicts 161 people, the majority of them ethnic Serbs, and sentences sixty-four. Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic, the two Bosnian Serbs most responsible for the Srebrenica massacre—considered the worst human rights atrocity committed on European soil since World War II—are arrested in 2008 and 2011, respectively. Both trials are still underway.

Hutu prisoners awaiting trial on genocide charges look out from the Gitarama prison in Rwanda. Corinee Dufka/Reuters
Hutu prisoners awaiting trial on genocide charges look out from the Gitarama prison in Rwanda. (Corinee Dufka/Reuters)
International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda

After an estimated eight hundred thousand people are massacred in Rwanda and more than two million flee the country, the UN Security Council creates the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda to bring to justice those responsible for the 1994 genocide. The ICTR completes seventy-two cases from 1994 to 2012, including that of former prime minister Jean Kambanda. Kambanda pleads guilty to six counts—including genocide—and is sentenced to life imprisonment for crimes against humanity. The tribunal continues to prosecute outstanding cases and is scheduled to conclude in 2014.

Augusto Pinochet is assisted by bodyguards as he attends a ceremony for the thirtieth anniversary of the Chilean military coup. Carlos Barria/Reuters
Augusto Pinochet is assisted by bodyguards as he attends a ceremony for the thirtieth anniversary of the Chilean military coup. (Carlos Barria/Reuters)
Legal Battles of Augusto Pinochet

Former president of Chile Augusto Pinochet is arrested in October 1998 while seeking medical treatment in London, on a warrant issued by a Spanish court, setting off an international dispute over where and how he should be tried for allegations of torture committed during his presidency from 1973 to 1990. After a yearlong legal battle, officials rule he should not be extradited to Spain. Pinochet returns to Chile in 2000, and is subsequently indicted on a number of charges involving the forced "disappearances" and murders of political opponents. In the following years, he faces scrutiny over his mental capacity to stand trial and fights several battles over his ever-shifting status of immunity from prosecution. In 2004, he is placed under house arrest in connection with nine kidnappings. Pinochet dies of congestive heart failure in December 2006 and is never convicted for any of his alleged crimes.

ICC judges pose with foreign dignitaries after the court's inaugural ceremony. Paul Vreeker/Reuters
ICC judges pose with foreign dignitaries after the court's inaugural ceremony. (Paul Vreeker/Reuters)
Creation of the International Criminal Court

The Rome Statute, an international treaty signed by 120 nations, enters into force in July after being ratified by sixty countries, forming the International Criminal Court. The ICC, based in The Hague, Netherlands, is the first international permanent tribunal for the gravest violations of international law, including war crimes, genocide, and crimes against humanity.

An amputee victim of Sierra Leone's civil war at a camp in Freetown, Sierra Leone. Gleb Garanich/Reuters
An amputee victim of Sierra Leone's civil war at a camp in Freetown, Sierra Leone. (Gleb Garanich/Reuters)
Special Court for Sierra Leone

The government of Sierra Leone and the United Nations agree to establish the Special Court for Sierra Leone to try those most responsible for crimes against humanity committed in the territory during the country's civil war. Between 2002 and 2012, twenty-one people are indicted for war crimes, including murder, rape, enslavement, extermination, and attacks against UN peacekeepers. The most famous defendant is Liberia's former president, Charles Taylor, who is turned over to the court in 2006 on charges that he directed the rebel forces that committed many of the atrocities in Sierra Leone, including forced amputations. The Special Court finds Taylor guilty of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and serious violations of international humanitarian law during Sierra Leone's civil war, making Taylor the first former head of state to be convicted by an international tribunal. In May 2012, the Special Court sentences Taylor to fifty years in prison.

Saddam Hussein shouts at the courtoom while the verdict is read during his trial. Pool/Reuters
Saddam Hussein shouts at the courtoom while the verdict is read during his trial. (Pool/Reuters)
Supreme Iraqi Criminal Tribunal

The Iraqi Special Tribunal is established by the U.S.-appointed Iraqi Governing Council in December 2003 to try Iraqis who committed human rights atrocities during former dictator Saddam Hussein's rule from 1968 to 2003. The Iraqi interim government integrates the tribunal into the domestic legal system in 2005. Hussein is accused of ordering the 1982 execution of about one hundred and fifty Shiite Iraqis in the northern town of Dujail, slaughtering some five thousand Kurds with chemical gas in Halabja in 1988, and invading Kuwait in 1990. The tribunal convicts Hussein in 2006, and in December, he is executed by hanging. Other members of Hussein's Ba'athist cabinet stand trial and are convicted over the next several years, and are eventually executed or sentenced to life imprisonment.

Former Khmer Rouge leader Nuon Chea, also known as "Brother Number Two," sits before the Cambodian Genocide Tribunal. Reuters
Former Khmer Rouge leader Nuon Chea, also known as "Brother Number Two," sits before the Cambodian Genocide Tribunal. (Reuters)
Cambodian Genocide Tribunal

In 2003, the hybrid Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, also known as the Cambodian Genocide Tribunal, is established to try living members of the Khmer Rouge party responsible for the genocide of Cambodians during the party's rule in the late 1970s. Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot, who dies under house arrest in 1997, is never brought to trial or convicted for authorizing the genocide, and the tribunal goes on to try the remaining leaders of the party. Three of the most senior party leaders—Nuon Chea, Khieu Samphan, and Ieng Sary—go on trial in late 2011. Khmer Rouge prison chief Kain Guek Eav, who managed the infamous S-21 torture center, is sentenced to life imprisonment in March 2012.

Alberto Fujimori stands in the courtroom after listening to his sentence in 2009. Reuters
Alberto Fujimori stands in the courtroom after listening to his sentence in 2009. (Reuters)
Trials of Alberto Fujimori

In 2000, after ten years in office, Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori faxes in his resignation from Japan amid a corruption scandal involving his intelligence chief, Vladimiro Montesinos. Fujimori is arrested in Chile in 2005 and extradited back to Peru two years later, where he undergoes several trials for corruption and human rights violations allegedly committed during his presidency. Fujimori is convicted in 2007 for ordering an illegal search and seizure of Montesinos's house and sentenced to six years in prison. In 2009, he is convicted and sentenced to twenty-five years imprisonment for authorizing two military squad incidents that resulted in kidnappings and several civilian deaths, which Fujimori said were targeted at members of the Shining Path terrorist group.

Omar al-Bashir sits at the opening session of the Arab League summit in Qatar in 2009. Hassan Ammar/AP Photo
Omar al-Bashir sits at the opening session of the Arab League summit in Qatar in 2009. (Hassan Ammar/AP Images)
ICC Arrest Warrant for Omar al-Bashir

On March 4, 2009, the ICC issues an indictment against Sudan's president, Omar al-Bashir, for orchestrating a campaign of mass violence—including murder, torture, and rape—against non-Arab ethnic groups in the Darfur region since 2003. Bashir is the first sitting president of a nation to be indicted by the ICC. Sudan, which is not a party to the Rome Statute and does not recognize the court, does not turn him over. The African Union also rejects the warrant, arguing that the ICC has a bias against African nations, and calls on member states not to arrest Bashir if he is received in their countries. Bashir continues to travel internationally to countries that do not cooperate with the warrant, and evades arrest and prosecution.

Muammar Qaddafi greets supporters before delivering a speech in Tripoli. Ahmed Jadallah/Reuters
Muammar Qaddafi greets supporters before delivering a speech in Tripoli. (Ahmed Jadallah/Reuters)
ICC Indictment of Muammar al-Qaddafi

In June 2011, the ICC indicts Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi, his son, and brother-in-law for crimes against humanity arising from their authorization of the killing of protesters during Libya's popular uprising. Qaddafi is killed by opposition forces in October, and one month later, his son, Saif al-Islam Qaddafi, is arrested during an attempted escape to Niger. In the following months, Libyan officials and the ICC dispute the location of Saif's trial--Libyan authorities argue he should be tried in his home country, while the ICC maintains that he would have a fairer trial at The Hague. Qaddafi's brother-in-law and intelligence chief, Abdullah Senussi, is captured in Mauritania in March 2012 and faces possible extradition to Libya.

Hosni Mubarak sits in a cage in a Cairo courtroom in June 2012. Reuters
Hosni Mubarak sits in a cage in a Cairo courtroom in June 2012. (Reuters)
Trial of Hosni Mubarak

Three months after resigning as president of Egypt, Hosni Mubarak is ordered to stand trial in a domestic court on charges of corruption and premeditated murder of Arab Spring protesters. The trial lasts from August 2011 to June 2012, when Mubarak is convicted of complicity in the protesters' deaths but acquitted on corruption charges. The court sentences him to life imprisonment. Despite Mubarak's verdict and sentencing, however, six senior security officials are acquitted of complicity in the killings, prompting nationwide protests.

Mayan Indians of the Kekchi ethnic group attend a wake for people massacred in 1982 during Guatemala's civil war. Eliana Aponte/Reuters
Mayan Indians of the Kekchi ethnic group attend a wake for people massacred in 1982 during Guatemala's civil war. (Eliana Aponte/Reuters)
Trial of Efrain Rios Montt

Former president of Guatemala Efrain Rios Montt is formally indicted in January 2012 for the killing of indigenous people during the country's civil war, which lasted from 1960 to 1996. He is charged again in May 2012 for authorizing the massacre at Dos Erres, which killed 201 villagers in 1982. In May 2013, a Guatemalan court finds the eighty-six-year-old Rios Montt guilty of genocide and crimes against humanity, making him the first former Latin American leader to be convicted on such charges, and he is sentenced to eighty years in prison. However, the constitutional court annuls the ruling days later, ordering the trial court to rehear the last month of the case.

Laurent Gbagbo casts hus vote for the Ivory Coast presidential election in 2010. Thierry Gouegnon/Reuters
Laurent Gbagbo casts hus vote for the Ivory Coast presidential election in 2010. (Thierry Gouegnon/Reuters)
ICC Trial of Laurent Gbagbo

The former president of the Ivory Coast, Laurent Gbagbo, becomes the first former head of state to stand trial at the ICC for crimes against humanity committed in 2010 and 2011, when about three thousand people were killed after Gbagbo refused to step down from the presidency after losing the national election. Gbagbo is arrested in April 2011 amid French and UN military intervention and faces four charges of crimes against humanity, including murder and rape. Gbagbo's trial, initially scheduled for June 2012, is postponed after Gbagbo's defense team declares him ill after undergoing "cruel and inhumane treatment" in detention.

Timeline
Leaders Facing Justice