ICC convicts Congo militia leader of war crimes

[JURIST] The International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] on Friday found [judgment summary, PDF] Congolese militia leader Germain Katanga [case materials; JURIST news archive] guilty of four counts of war crimes and one count of crime against humanity. The crimes were committed during an attack on a village in a diamond-rich region of Congo in 2003, in which approximately 200 civilians were killed and some sexually assaulted. During a public hearing Friday, presiding judge Bruno Cotte delivered [press release] a summary of the judgment. He explained that based on the evidence presented and witness testimony, it had been established beyond a reasonable doubt that Katanga made a "significant contribution to the commission of crimes by the Ngiti militia." The court acquitted Katanga of the other charges, including sexual slavery, using child soldiers and rape. Katanga is only the second person to be convicted since the court's inception in 2002.

The trial against Katanga has been ongoing for nearly six years. One of the latest developments came in 2012 when a Dutch court ruled [JURIST report] that three Congolese witnesses be allowed to remain in the Netherlands to seek asylum after testifying against Katanga in the ICC. In 2010 the ICC's Appeals Chamber denied Katanga's request [JURIST report] for stay of proceedings and declaration of unlawful detention by Congo before his transfer to The Hague. Katanga pleaded not guilty [JURIST report] in November 2009 to three crimes against humanity and seven war crimes, including murder, sexual slavery, pillage and the use of child soldiers. In September 2009 the Appeals Chamber upheld the admissibility [JURIST report] of Katanga's case after he argued that the charges should be dropped because he was being tried on the same crimes in Congo. The charges against Katanga were originally confirmed [JURIST report] in the Pre-Trial Chamber of the ICC in 2008.

 

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