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Christopher Black is an international criminal lawyer based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada where he defended accused in a wide variety of criminal offences, including acting as counsel in several murder trials. He was appointed amicus curiae in the Kuldip Singh Samra case in 1993 (the Osgoode Hall shootings) by Mr. Justice John O'Driscoll. He has been involved in high-profile cases involving human rights and war crimes and has defended those accused of these crimes in Rwanda (see Rwandan Genocide) and the former Yugoslavia and is on the list of counsel at the International Criminal Court.
Black graduated from McMaster University, with an honours B.A. summa cum laude and from Osgoode Hall Law School at York University with an LL.B. He is a member of the Law Society of Upper Canada and speaks English, French and Swahili.
Relating to the Rwandan War, 1990 to 1994
Black has written several articles about the role of the ad hoc war crimes tribunals as instruments of US war policy and regarding the 1994 conflict in Rwanda, arguing that its standard interpretation as a genocide of the country's Tutsi population is incorrect based on the evidence presented at the trials at the ICTR. He notes that the Tutsi-led Rwandese Patriotic Front conducted a war of aggression from Uganda against Rwanda with US and British support from 1990, and presents the evidence that the RPF was responsible for the 1994 shoot down of the presidential plane which killed the Hutu presidents of Burundi and Rwanda. Black also argues, based on the evidence in the trials and research by many academics that many of the deaths which occurred in the resulting upheaval were perpetrated by RPF members, rather than by the extremist Hutu groups which have generally been held responsible for the country's descent into chaos.
Black defended General Augustin Ndindiliyimana the former chief of staff of Rwanda's Gendarmerie or National Police Force, and highest ranking Rwandan military officer, before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda in Arusha, Tanzania who was acquitted of all substantive charges against him in 2011 but convicted of genocide based on simple failure to punish some subordinates for alleged crimes. He was acquitted of dozens of charges that he ordered massacres, failed to protect civilians, conspiracy to commit genocide, or was personally involved in killing Tutsis. The ICTR ordered his release after having already spent 11 years in prison as the judges found he had risked his life to save Tutsis, including hiding 37 Tutsi orphans at his home in Kigali along with several Tutsi priests, supported the Arusha Accords, opposed massacres, did all he could to achieve peace and was himself targeted as a possible RPF agent and was forced to flee Rwanda in June, 1994. Readers can refer to the judgement at the ICTR website. Black, and other defence lawyers, went on strike in early 2004, claiming that the tribunal was being used for political ends and that a fair hearing was impossible. He has been the subject of several death threats as a result of his work at the Rwanda tribunal and the subject of threats and intimidation from the current RPF Rwandan regime and the CIA, which was reported to the President of the ICTR. Black also acted as counsel on the appeal made by General Ndindiliyimana from his convictions. General Ndindiliyimana was acquitted of all remaining charges by the Appeals Chamber of the ICTR on February 11, 2014.
Black acted as legal counsel to the FDU-Inkingi Rwandan political party and the Rwanda National Congress, who were joined by the Congolese civil society groups Approdec and Congonova, on August 17, 2012 when they presented a complaint to the prosecutor's office of the ICC in The Hague seeking an ICC investigation of and the laying of criminal charges against Paul Kagame and other Rwandan military officers for war crimes committed by them in assisting the M23 group in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Relating to the former Yugoslavia
Black, along with other jurists criticized the imprisonment of Slobodan Milošević at the International War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague and argues that the ad hoc war crimes tribunals are illegitimate under the UN Charter and used by the Americans as show trials for their political objectives. He met with Milošević on many occasions and acted as a legal adviser only. He is a vice-chair of the International Committee for the Defence of Slobodan Milosevic and the Chair of its Legal Committee which included lawyers Ramsey Clarke and Jacques Vergès and playwright Harold Pinter. He argues that, based on the evidence that the former Serbian leader was completely innocent of the charges brought against him. Black argued that the evidence was clear and unequivocal that Milošević was consistently committed to a multi-ethnic Yugoslavia during his time in government. He is engaged by the widow of President Milosevic, Mira Markovic, to investigate the death of President Milosevic and the responsibility of the ICTY, UN and Nato for his death. In March 2013 he, along with well-known Russian international lawyer, Alexander Mezyaev, called for an international public inquiry into the circumstances of the death of President Milosevic.
Black has argued that the leaders of NATO should themselves be brought before the tribunal for war crimes, and was one of a group of Canadian lawyers, led by Professor Michael Mandel of Osgoode Hall Law School, who laid war crimes charges against all Nato leaders and officers in 1999 for the bombing of Yugoslavia and criticised Louise Arbour, former prosecutor of the ICTY and ICTR because of her cooperation with NATO leaders during the 1999 bombing of Serbia and because, as Chief Prosecutor at the Rwanda War Crimes Tribunal she stopped the investigation into the murder of the Hutu Presidents of Rwanda and Burundi on April 6, 1994 when their plane was shot down by anti-aircraft missiles after Arbour learned that the Tutsi-dominated Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) were responsible, a fact confirmed by both her lead investigator, Australian lawyer Michael Hourigan and as contained in the Hourigan Report, a UN document, now an exhibit in the Military II trial, ICTR. Black says that Arbour stopped the investigation on the orders of the US. He also led[clarification needed] evidence at the ICTR that US forces were directly involved in the fighting in Rwanda during 1994 and that claims by President Clinton to the contrary are false.
Black has also assisted the legal team of Dr. Seselj, the head of the Serbian Radical Party, also held in detention by the ICTY.
On October 12, 2013, at a conference held in Paris, Black joined the international committee for the defence of Charles Ble Goude, former cabinet minister in the government of Laurent Gbagbo of Côte d'Ivoire, who faces charges in Côte d'Ivoire and before the ICC. The purpose of the committee is to monitor the developments in the Goude case, ensure a fair trial in either venue, to provide support for the defence as required and to educate the world public about the events in Côte d'Ivoire that led to the foreign backed putsch in 2010.