17 December 2012

Congo-Kinshasa: ICC to Hand Down Second Verdict Tuesday

Arusha — On Tuesday, December 18, the International Criminal Court will hand down its second ever verdict, in the case of former Congolese militia leader Mathieu Ngudjolo. He is charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity in connection with a February 2003 attack in Ituri, eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, which left some 200 people dead.

The ICC's first judgment, handed down earlier this year, also concerned a son of Ituri, Thomas Lubanga. He was sentenced to 14 years in jail for recruiting children and using them to fight. Ngudjolo too is accused of using child soldiers. However, the charges against him also include intentionally attacking the civilian population, murder, sexual slavery and inhumane acts.

The attack on the village of Bogoro on February 24, 2003, was allegedly led by Ngudjolo and Germain Katanga. The two were tried together in a case that opened on November 24, 2009 and closed on May 23, 2012. However, ICC judges decided on November 21 to separate the two cases.

Ngudjolo denies all the charges, saying he was not in Bogoro on the day of the attack but attending a birth in his capacity as a nurse. He also denies that he was ever a militiaman or had troops under his control.

If the court finds Ngudjolo guilty, it will set a separate date for a sentencing hearing.

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