Rwanda Deliverance

DU law professor David Akerson and his students sum up justice.

"They had only given us the public-record part of the case, and a number of witnesses testify in closed session. The tribunal is hoping to bring one of the students on site to analyze all of the closed-session, confidential material."

On his way home, Akerson stopped by the Hague to see the June 4 opening argument for the trial of Charles Taylor, the former president of Liberia who financed and supported atrocities against civilians in Sierra Leone. "Charles Taylor destabilized West Africa," he says. "He took child-soldier recruitment to unprecedented levels, and one of his practices was to take a couple of boys, cut off their hands and then send them ahead into the village knowing that the villagers would run and panic."

Akerson hopes Taylor's trial will be the first his students analyze as the testimony is given instead of after the fact. "Ultimately, what I'm proposing to the tribunals and the law school is that we do every international war-crimes trial," he says. "The goal for me is that we have a full-blown war-crimes clinic. I've made proposals to both the University of Colorado and DU law schools to see who wants to pick up the program.

"Nobody is analyzing the evidence in the way we're doing. I happen to be the guy who introduced the technology, so I know how to do it."

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