Shifting Priorities: Are Attitudes Changing at the International Criminal Court about Trials in absentia?

In: International Criminal Law Review
Caleb H. Wheeler Lecturer in Law, Department of Law, Middlesex University London, London, UK,

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A recent decision by the International Criminal Court’s Appeals Chamber in the Gbagbo and Blé Goudé case raised the possibility of a shift away from the long-standing practice of only holding trial in the presence of the accused. The final paragraphs of the 28 May 2020 decision asserts that any future trial proceedings in the Gbagbo et al. case could be held in the absence of the defendants should Mr Gbagbo and Mr Blé Goudé be released from custody and then later fail to appear for trial. This article examines the Appeals Chamber’s decision in light of the Court’s Statute, existing jurisprudence at the icc and within the larger context of international criminal law. It concludes that the Appeals Chamber’s decision fails to properly understand the right to be present at trial as it exists in the Rome Statute nor does it comply with any identified general principle of law.

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