Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Closing Statements Begin in the Katanga and Ngudjolo Case, the ICC's Second

Germain Katanga listens to the OTP's closing statements in the Hague on May 15, 2012.
Photo credit: ICC-CPI

By Anjie Zheng

The Prosecutor began closing arguments in the case against alleged Congolese warlords Germain Katanga and Mathieu Ngudjolo Chui in Trial Chamber II of the ICC today. This is the second ICC case to reach this stage. It is the first case against two jointly accused defendants, and the first to deal with charges of sexual violence.

The defendants are co-charged with seven counts of war crimes and three counts of crimes against humanity allegedly committed against ethnic Hema in Bogoro, a village of the Congo's Ituri region, in February 2003. Katanga was the former commander of the Force de Resistance Patriotique en Ituri (FRPI); Ngudjolo the former leader of the Front des Nationalistes et Integrationnistes (FNI). Both militia were engaged in fighting against the rival Union des Patriotes Congolese (UPC) militia, led by recently convicted Thomas Lubanga Dyilo, in a conflict that devastated the resources-rich Ituri region.

In 2009, when the Katanga and Ngudjolo trial began, the Prosecutor noted it would be the final ICC trial regarding the Ituri conflict. The OTP indicated it would shift future focus to atrocities committed in the Kivu region. Following years of investigation, the OTP filed an arrest warrant application yesterday for Sylvestre Mudacumura, leader of one of the most active militia in the Kivu provinces. The application charged Mudacumura with five counts of crimes against humanity and nine counts of war crimes, including murder, rape, and torture.

Along with submitting an arrest warrant application yesterday, the OTP requested to add more charges of crimes against humanity and war crimes to the arrest warrant against Bosco Ntaganda. Ntaganda was co-accused in 2006 with Thomas Lubanga, yet remains at large.

After the Prosecution's closing arguments in the Katanga and Chui case, the Defense will make closing statements on May 21-23, 2012. The hearings may be viewed on the ICC's official YouTube channel.

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