ICC begins trial for Congolese nationals accused of war crimes
The International Criminal Court (ICC) at The Hague began proceedings Nov. 24 for the trial of two Congolese nationals believed to be responsible for the killings of more than 200 men, women, and children in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) in 2003. Germain Katanga and Mathieu Ngudjolo Chui both pleaded not guilty to three crimes against humanity and seven war crimes, including murder, sexual slavery, pillage, and the use of child soldiers.
Katanga, a former commander in the Front for Patriotic Resistance of Ituri (FRPI), and Ngudjolo Chui, a former commander in the Nationalist and Integrationist Front (FNI), allegedly led two groups of child soldiers and militia in the attack against the village of Bogoro, in the DRC's mineral-rich Ituri province. The prosecution will present 26 witnesses, 21 of whom will hide their identities due to ongoing hostility in the DRC. Lawyers for over 300 victims, including child soldiers, will also take part in the trial.
This trial is only the ICC's second case since its formation since 2002. The first trial began in January for the Congolese militia leader Thomas Lubanga Dyilo, whose militia base in Bogoro was the object of the 2003 attack. Lubanga stands accused of war crimes for allegedly recruiting child soldiers to fight in the DRC in 2002-2003. Lubanga's trial was temporarily halted soon after it began when one of the child witnesses recanted his testimony that Lubanga had recruited him for the militia. The prosecution has since concluded its case and defense proceedings were recently postponed from their original date in October. Lubanga maintains he is innocent of the charges against him. (Jurist, Nov. 24)
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