Friday, December 04, 2009

War crimes in the DRC: Opening day of The Prosecutor vs. Germain Katanga and Mathieu Ngudjolo Chui

Defendants Germain Katanga and Mathieu Ngudjolo Chui were present on the first day of their joint trial, November 24, 2009. Both individually pleaded not guilty to 7 counts of war crimes and 3 counts of crimes against humanity, which were confirmed on September 26, 2008. For background information about this case, please click here.

The Prosecution alleges that the attacks by the Defendants against the village of Bogoro, DRC, on February 24, 2003, were part of a prepared common plan perpetrated by the accused with the objective to wipe out the entire village of Bogoro without making distinctions between soldiers and civilians. Mrs. Bensouda underlined that Katanga was the supreme commander of FNPI, and Chui of FNI; these two groups collaborated to defeat their common enemy: the Union des Patriotes Congolais (UPC) which had a military camp in Bogoro. Accordingly, Katanga and Chui hold individual criminal responsibility.

The Defense recognized that this was the opening of the OTP case and kept their remarks short as they wait for the opening of the Defense's case. Mr. Kilenda highlighted some flaws in the Prosecution’s presentation, and further underlined that the OTP had not interviewed the highest authorities of Uganda and the DRC to establish the full truth.

The Legal Representatives of Victims, Mr. Gilissen representing 7 child soldiers and Mr. Luvengika on behalf of 338 victims, expressed the victims’ hope that they would seek recognition for the atrocities inflicted upon them.

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