ICC war crimes tribunal hobbles on despite hacking

FILE PHOTO: ICC ruling on former Ivory Coast President Gbagbo and former Youth Minister Ble Goude in the Hague

By Stephanie van den Berg

THE HAGUE (Reuters) -The Netherlands-based International Criminal Court was operating on Thursday with disruptions to email, streaming and document-sharing after a hacking incident earlier in the week, sources and lawyers at the tribunal said.

The high-profile ICC in the city of The Hague handles sensitive information about war crimes cases.

It disclosed the hack on Tuesday but has given no more information as it seeks to continue core work including an ongoing trial of two men accused of leading Central African Republic militias.

In March, the court issued an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin on suspicion of illegally deporting children from Ukraine. The Kremlin rejects the accusations and the court's jurisdiction.

Prosecutors are also conducting investigations of alleged war crimes in Ukraine, Sudan and Afghanistan, among others.

On Thursday, the court was disconnected from most systems that can access the internet, meaning employees cannot read e-mail and documents cannot be viewed remotely, according to two sources.

Hearings in the trial over attacks on Muslim civilians in the Central African Republic resumed, but the livestream was down and there was no sound in the galleries, court staff told media.

"As the defence team, we do have limited access to the court systems," lawyer Geert-Jan Knoops, who represents one of the suspects, told Reuters, asking for clarity over whether the hack had given undue access to documents.

ICC documents could range from criminal evidence to names of protected witnesses.

The suspects in Thursday's trial, Patrice-Edouard Ngaissona and co-defendant Alfred Yekatom, have pleaded not guilty.

Mylene Dimitri, defending Yekatom, told Reuters she was exchanging information via USB flash drives and paper binders, delivering information personally from office-to-office.

Only live witnesses were being heard, she added, with testimony via videolink from others postponed.

(Reporting by Stephanie van den Berg, Anthony Deutsch, Toby Sterling; editing by Barbara Lewis and Andrew Cawthorne)