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Nice (France) truck attack: Five suspected accomplices charged

Five suspects have appeared in court in France charged with terror offences in relation to the Nice truck attack.

The four men and one woman, aged between 22 and 40, are accused of helping driver Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel prepare the terror attack.

One of the suspects returned to the scene of the attack the following day to film the aftermath, French prosecutor Francois Molins said.

Lahouaiej-Bouhle killed 84 people when he drove into a crowd on Bastille Day.
He received logistical support for the attack from the five suspects, Mr Molins said, and had planned the attack for several months.

Three of the suspects, identified as Franco-Tunisians Ramzi A and Mohamed Oualid G, and a Tunisian named Chokri C, were charged as accomplices in "murder by a group with terror links".

An Albanian man named as Artan and a women who is a French-Albanian dual national, identified as Enkeldja, are suspected of providing Lahouaiej-Bouhlel with a pistol and were charged with "breaking the law on weapons in relation to a terrorist group".

All five will be held in custody, Mr Molins said.

Like Lahouaiej-Bouhlel, none of those detained were known to French intelligence prior to the attack, although Ramzi A had previous convictions for drugs and petty crime, Mr Molins said.

He said information from Lahouaiej-Bouhlel's phone showed searches and photos that indicated he had been studying an attack since 2015.

The so-called Islamic State group said Lahouaiej-Bouhlel was one of its "soldiers" - but the lorry driver had not been on any French police watch list.

As the Bastille Day crowd enjoyed festivities on Nice's Promenade des Anglais, Lahouaiej-Bouhlel careered his large white lorry towards them.

Two police officers opened fire when he mounted the kerb, but he simply accelerated and then zigzagged for up to 2km (1.25 miles), leaving a trail of carnage.

Police finally managed to bring the lorry to a halt, raking the driver's cabin with gunfire and killing Lahouaiej-Bouhlel.

More than 300 people were wounded in the attack.

France has extended its state of emergency until the end of January 2017. It gives the police extra powers to carry out searches and to place people under house arrest.

Too few police?

The government has also launched an inquiry into police actions in Nice on 14 July, amid claims that there were too few police to block a lorry that killed 84 people.

Just one local police car was on duty at the point where the lorry careered onto the pedestrian promenade, the daily Liberation reported.

The local police had neither enough time nor firepower to stop the lorry, it said.

That version of events was disputed by Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve.

He said Liberation was referring to a separate, local police roadblock that was diverting traffic. The main roadblock at the start of the promenade was manned by six national police officers, who were "the first to confront the deadly lorry", he said, adding that two police cars of the national police were stationed there.

Source: BBC News

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Senegal court sentences Chad ex-ruler to life in prison

A court in Senegal convicted former Chadian dictator Hissène Habré of crimes against humanity committed during his rule from 1982 to 1990 and sentenced to life imprisonment on Monday. He was found guilty [BBC report] of sex slavery, rape and the ordered killings of an estimated 40,000 people. Human Rights Watch lawyer Reed Brody, who initiated the trial, stated:

"This verdict sends a powerful message that the days when tyrants could brutalize their people, pillage their treasury and escape abroad to a life of luxury are coming to an end. Today will be carved into history as the day that a band of unrelenting survivors brought their dictator to justice."

This trial marks the first time a court with backing from the African Union has tried a former ruler for human rights violations, and also the first time a former African head of state was found guilty by an another African country. Habré has fifteen days to appeal the sentence.

Habré, who fled to Senegal after being deposed in 1990, was indicted by the Extraordinary African Chambers in July 2013 and placed in pretrial detention. In September the former leader was carried into court by masked security agents following his refusal to participate in his own trial. In July the Extraordinary African Chambers in Senegal suspended his trial on charges of crimes against humanity, torture and war crimes, reportedly due to the need for court appointed lawyers to prepare the former leader's defense. In March 2015, a criminal court in Chad sentenced Habré-era police officers to prison tor torture. In 2013 more than 1,000 victims filed for civil party status, asking the Extraordinary African Chambers to officially recognize them as parties with an interest in the matter. The African Union began talks with Senegal to come up with a plan for Habré's trial after the International Court of Justice ruled in July 2012 that Senegal must either try Habré promptly or extradite him to Belgium for trial.

Source: JURIST

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Sweden court sentences man to life in prison for role in Rwanda genocide

[JURIST] A Swedish court sentenced a man to life in prison on Monday for taking part in the 1994 Rwandan genocide. The Stockholm District Court determined that Claver Berinkindi was guilty of genocide and gross crime under international law consisting of murder, kidnapping and attempted murder. More than 800,000 people were killed by Hutus over three months in 1994. Berinkindi was charged in Sweden last year after a Rwandan Gacaca community court convicted him of genocide-related crimes in absentia. This trial is part of a global effort to try those who have committed crimes against humanity no matter where those crimes occurred. Berinkindi was a Rwandan who obtained Swedish citizenship in 2012. He was found to have participated in five different massacres in 1994. He was found not only to have rallied people to participate in various killings but also to have killed countless people himself. The court also awarded 15 people damages who had witnessed the loss of a relative at the hands of Berinkindi, ranging from $3,900 to $13,000 and to be taken from Berinkindi's property. Berinkindi has three weeks to appeal the decision.

Earlier this month two Rwandan mayors went on trial in France on charges of war crimes ad crimes against humanity committed during the 1994 Rwandan genocide. In January the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) formally closed after issuing 45 judgments. In September a court in Toulouse, France, refused extradition requests for Joseph Habyarimana, a Rwandan man, facing charges of genocide and crimes against humanity. In January of last year two Rwandan police officers were sentenced to 20 years in jail for the murder of a Transparency International anti-corruption activist. In July 2014 the ICTR unanimously affirmed a 30-year jail sentence for former army chief Augustin Bizimungu for the role he played in the genocide. In December 2012 the ICTR convicted former Rwandan minister Augustin Ngirabatware, sentencing him to 35 years in prison on charges of genocide, incitement to commit genocide and rape as a crime against humanity.

Source: JURIST

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