23 May 2014

Congo-Kinshasa: ICC Sentences Congolese Warlord Katanga to 12 Years in Prison

The International Criminal Court in the Hague has sentenced former Congolese militia leader Germain Katanga to 12 years in jail. He had earlier been convicted of a range of war crimes.

The Hague-based International Criminal Court (ICC) on Friday handed down a 12-year jail sentence to Germain Katanga on charges related to a massacre during the conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The ICC had found Katanga guilty in March of "murder as a crime against humanity" and "murder as a war crime." He was also convicted of attacks on a civilian population, destroying enemy property and pillaging.

"The sentence of Germain Katanga to 12 years imprisonment by the ICC gives hope to victims and sends a strong signal to all perpetrators of serious crimes who now know that they will be actively pursued and prosecuted," said Joseph Dunia Ruyenzi, a Congolese activist from a group that promotes the court's work.

On February 24, 2003, militias from the Lendu ethnic group, to which Katanga belongs, along with other allied tribes, were alleged to have attacked a village of the Hema ethnic group in the northeastern Ituri district.

The fighters are said to have killed some 200 civilians in the village, in addition to plundering and raping.

Congolese authorities arrested Katanga in 2007, handing him over to the ICC in the same year.

Katanga is only the second person sentenced by the court. He could be released soon, as he has already been detained at the court for almost seven years.

- dpa, AFP

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