Foca Trial

Tribunal Update No. 178 Last Week in The Hague (May 29 - June 3, 2000)

Foca Trial

Tribunal Update No. 178 Last Week in The Hague (May 29 - June 3, 2000)

Saturday, 3 June, 2000

The witness was a former member of the United Nations Bassiouni Commission, which was founded in 1992 to collect information on war crimes on the territory of the former Yugoslavia.


The prosecutors had hoped to use the expert testimony to reinforce their claim that women were systematically raped and sexually abused, not only in Foca, but elsewhere in Bosnia too.


The defence argued that the Bassiouni report mentions Foca only sporadically and includes little detail directly pertinent to the case. Judge Hunt then questioned the validity of testimony which consists of "an opinion" based on unverified facts.


Prosecutor Peggy Kuo countered that the Bassiouni report included a large number of victim testimonies from across Bosnia, which "demonstrate a widespread pattern of sexual abuse."


Judge Hunt, however, pointed out that the Bassiouni Commission had collected witness testimonies and allegations, which were then sent to the UN and the Tribunal for verification. The judge, therefore, concluded that the Tribunal's first task was to verify the allegations and not to immediately accept them as evidence.


Judge Hunt also pointed out that Article 5 of the Tribunal Statute (Crimes Against Humanity) did not require the prosecution to prove widespread rape, but to prove beyond reasonable doubt that widespread attacks on civilians, including rape, occurred during an armed conflict. The case for the prosecution is almost concluded. The trial will continue 13 June.


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