Situation: Democratic Republic of the Congo
Case: The Prosecutor v. Germain Katanga
Today, 23 May 2014, Trial Chamber II of the International Criminal Court (ICC), ruling in the majority, sentenced Germain Katanga to a total of 12 years' imprisonment. The Chamber also ordered that the time spent in detention at the ICC – between 18 September 2007 and 23 May 2014 – be deducted from his sentence. Judge Christine Van den Wyngaert appended a dissenting opinion.
On 7 March 2014, Germain Katanga was found guilty, as an accessory, of one count of crimes against humanity (murder) and four counts of war crimes (murder, attacking a civilian population, destruction of property and pillaging) committed on 24 February 2003 during the attack on the village of Bogoro, in the Ituri district of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
At a public hearing today, Presiding Judge Bruno Cotte delivered a summary of the Chamber's decision. He explained that when determining the sentence, the Chamber had to consider the legitimate need for truth and justice voiced by the victims and their family members, while seeking also to ensure that the sentence acts as a deterrent to potential perpetrators of similar crimes.
The Presiding Judge also set out the aggravating or mitigating factors taken into consideration by the Chamber in determining the sentence, which should be in proportion to the crime and the culpability of the convicted person. Those factors, the purpose of which is to give meaning to the penalty imposed in light of the specific circumstances of the case, included , inter alia, the gravity of the acts committed by the accused from both a qualitative and a quantitative point of view. The Judges also took account of the form and degree of the accused's participation in the crime in question.
With regard to the gravity of the crimes, the Chamber stressed that the crimes committed on 24 February 2003 in Bogoro were committed with particular cruelty, resulted in numerous civilian victims, and that the scars of the fighting can still be seen today. The Chamber considered that the scope of the crimes was undeniable, including on account of their clearly discriminatory aspect vis-à-vis the mainly Hema population living in Bogoro at that time.
Turning to Germain Katanga's degree of participation and intent, the Chamber considered that he had made a significant contribution to the commission of the crimes of attacking a civilian population, murder, pillage and destruction of property and that said contribution had been made in the knowledge of those crimes.
Nonetheless, the Chamber considered, in determining the sentence, that account had to be taken of Germain Katanga's conduct after the events and, in particular, his active participation in the demobilisation process implemented in Ituri for the benefit of the child soldiers and, to a certain extent, of his personal situation.
Lastly, absent any factors that might call into question Germain Katanga's financial situation, the Chamber did not impose a fine.
Background: On 7 March 2014, Trial Chamber II found Germain Katanga guilty, as an accessory within the meaning of article 25(3)(d) of the Rome Statute, of one count of crime against humanity (murder) and four counts of war crimes (murder, attacking a civilian population, destruction of property and pillaging) committed on 24 February 2003 during the attack on the village of Bogoro, in the Ituri district of the DRC. The Chamber acquitted Germain Katanga of the other charges that he was facing. The Prosecutor and the Defence appealed the judgment. Decisions on possible reparations to victims will be rendered later.