May 29th, 2014

Arms and Armaments (sorry ...)

Firstly, apologies for the dreadful pun. It's my first post, please don't hate me!

Setting:
Present day (sort of), UK. Or perhaps "alternative near-future" would be more accurate.

1) Arms
One of my characters is a veteran of operations in Iraq / Afghanistan. He's a senior NCO in his late 30s or early 40s - former regular, now recalled to full-time service as a result of the "alternative" bit of the setting. Is it possible for him to serve with a hi-tech prosthesis to the right arm, severed at / below the elbow? He's naturally right handed, so he's had to re-adapt his life so that he's now effectively left handed (and therefore cross-lateral). Having seen various adaptive prosthetics during paralympics, I suspect a modification to his right "hand" so that he can hold a rifle with a pistol grip, for example, should be relatively straightforward. However, would the adapted drills he'd need to use for cocking, clearing his weapon mean he wouldn't pass the various skills tests he'd need to do? He is no longer in an infantry unit (though that doesn't mean very much in this context, because of the "alternative" thing), but his experience is invaluable in his "support" function. For clarity, weapons most likely to be L85A2 with front grip and SIG Sauer pistol.
Search Terms: "arm amputee soldier British" and similar. Lots of good stuff about former soldiers, but I don't see any about those still in service.

2) Armaments
I am familiar with the use of adaptors etc when firing blank rounds from automatic / semi-automatic weapons, and the physical difference between unfired live and blank rounds, but it's many years since I have seen an expended blank round. Is there a difference between a fired blank cartridge case and fired live one? Would it be easy enough for any military person to tell the difference, or can it only been seen by (say) a trained armourer or ballistics forensic scientist?
Search Terms: "blank spent rounds" and similar. Most seem to return only the difference between unfired ball and blank rounds.

Thanks in anticipation

ICC tribunals

Setting: The ICC at the Hague, near-future with somewhat more advanced technology, but nothing that would render the scenario radically different than it would be if it were happening in the present, and allowing for a certain dramatic license with regards to what tends to be fairly dry legal proceedings

Research so far: Mainly the ICC's own site, and I've managed to find live streams of proceedings (goldmine!). Plus my own hazy recollections of Slobodan Milošević's trial, which is probably the closest real-world analogue to my scenario.

The background of the story is a tribunal at the Hague where a recently deposed dictator is on trial for crimes against humanity. The situation back home is somewhat stable—the rebels who overthrew him after a civil war are currently running the country and have restored democracy, but the former regime managed to make such a mess of things that everyone is still struggling to rebuild its institutions, thus the case has been referred to the ICC.

The main character is the prosecutor's star witness, who was present at two of the most well-documented violations (torture of political prisoners and the bombing of civilian targets). It's public knowledge that he was no angel either before the war and he has a criminal record, but this tends to be overlooked because he's now a national hero. What's less well-known is some of the nastier things he did during the war. The defence team's main strategy is to paint him and his movement as terrorists, justifying some of the more heavy-handed measures taken while the dictator was in power.

So, my questions! I'm still in the preliminary phase of planning this thing, so apologies in advance if they're vague.

1) For dramatic impact, the MC and other witnesses would have to travel to the Hague to testify in person (though I understand that strictly speaking, it might not be necessary). Is it likely that a group of them would arrive at the same time, assuming that they shared the same legal counsel, or would they just be showing up on the day or days they needed to testify?

2) Related to the above, where is everyone staying? Do they get put up in a hotel nearby? The MC has an old friend who lives there—can he be wandering around, sans security detail, and staying with his friend when there's a break in proceedings?

3) Would he be allowed to have informal contact with the accused's counsel? As in, if he runs into her accidentally, can they talk or would that look like one or both of them was trying to interfere with the trial?

4) Ultimately, the trial goes pear-shaped, and another character, who is back home and watching the proceedings, decides to take matters into his own hands and assassinate the ex-dictator. His plan is going to fail, but how feasibly close can he get?

Thanks in advance!
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