Law School Program offered Maureen Abboud Opportunity to Experience Human Justice and International Law up Close

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Dermot Groome, a professor from the Penn State-Dickenson School of Law was the senior prosecutor for a major case at the ICTY and helped set up Muareen Abboud's internship for a semester the law student will not forget.

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Interning with the United Nations at the ICTY did a great deal to focus her intent to continue with international criminal law and international humanitarian law. She admired the workings of the international criminal justice system and the international community's drive to put an end to crimes against human suffering.

Abboud Worked with the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY)

The ICTY was established by the United Nations in 1993, to prosecute serious crimes committed during wars in the former Yugoslavia in the 1990's. The ICTY purposed to hold senior leaders accountable for crimes to thousands of victims. A case Maureen Abboud interned was that of Popovic et al. Popovic was an assistant commander of security on the staff of the Bosnian Serb Army (VRS). Popovic and six associates were charged by the ICTY with genocide initiating intent to destroy Bosnian Muslims.

Maureen Abboud's work on the case involved anything which prosecutors needed in trial that day.
  • Researched motions
  • Compiled binders of evidence and exhibits to be submitted to the tribunal
  • Reviewed documents to be used at the trial
  • Assisted in witness preparation.

Maureen Abboud recalls her most interesting work during the trial was with Dean Manning who is an exhumation expert. As an investigator with the ICTY expert was primarily concerned with the exhumation of mass graves in Srebrenica.

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His investigations provided the ICTY with evidence of date and cause of death and identity of victims. This information connected execution sites to mass graves and additionally linked mass grave sites to each other. This was done through DNA testing which revealed that the Serbian army had been digging and burying victims in mass graves. After burying the mass, Serbs tried to hide their atrocities by creating secondary graves. They dug up bodies from the original mass graves and moved them to the secondary graves. DNA traced body parts throughout several grave sites to prove the genocide.

To see justice brought firsthand for international crimes against the Yugoslavian people was a moving experience. Abboud said, ''The ICTY, as well as the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) and the International Criminal Court (ICC) is a clear demonstration that the world will no longer tolerate injustice or violence; rather, it will be prosecuted and individuals will be held accountable.''

Maureen Abboud met other law students during her internship from Boston College and the University of California-Los Angeles as well as other regions in the world. All law students felt a sense of being a part of a larger purpose as they took part in the proceedings of the ICTY that semester in 2007. It was an experience that gave direction to Maureen Abboud.

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