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ICC finds DRC militia chief guilty of war crimes

Union des Patriotes Congolais militia chief Boscoe Ntaganda

The ICC Trial Chamber VI declared Bosco Ntagada guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity. Pic: ICC-CPI

Trial Chamber VI of the International Criminal Court (ICC) has found Congo warlord Bosco Ntaganda guilty of war crimes.

The court ruling on July 8 2019 found Ntanga guilty beyond reasonable doubt of murder, rape and sexual slavery amongst other crimes.

The case is related to 18 charges linked to the war in Ituri, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) committed between 2002-2003. The Trial Chamber VI was composed of Judge Robert Fremr, Presiding Judge, Judge Kuniko Ozaki and Judge Chang-ho Chung.

The ICC has a mandate to investigate and prosecute genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. Countries that have ratified the Rome Statute which include the DRC can refer alleged atrocity crimes to the ICC Prosecutor.

The ICC investigation against Bosco Ntaganda started in June 2004 after the DRC’s self-referral to the ICC. An arrest warrant was then issued on August 22 2006, followed by a second one on July 13 2012. Ntaganda handed himself over to the ICC on 22 March 2013.

Excepts from Judge Robert Fremr's delivery of the judgment. Visuals: ICC-CPI

Ntaganda is the Deputy Chief of Staff and commander of operations of the Union des Patriotes Congolais’ (UPC) armed wing, the Forces Patriotiques pour la Libération du Congo FPLC. The UPC was established in September 2000, and the FPLC three years later in September 2002. Ntaganda is also a former leader of the Rwandan backed rebel group, National Congress for the Defense of the People.

From August 2002, the UPC/FPLC was alleged to have perpetrated widespread and systematic attacks against civilians.

The trial began on September 2015 after an initial confirmation hearing in February 2014 and June 9 2014. The prosecution and defence called more than one hundred witnesses in total over the 248 day trial.

More than two thousand other victims were allowed to take part in the hearings alongside those who were already testifying.

ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda

ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda at a press conference on the commencement of the trial. Pic: ICC-CPI

The Chamber found Ntaganda liable, for parts of the charges of three of the crimes, namely murder as a crime against humanity and a war crime and persecution as a crime against humanity. It also found that he was an indirect perpetrator for the other parts of these crimes. The Chamber convicted him as an indirect perpetrator for the remaining crimes.

Among the crimes against humanity the court found him guilty of murder and attempted murder, rape, sexual slavery, persecution, forcible transfer and deportation. In connection with war crimes he was fount guilty of a long list of charges including murder and attempted murder, intentionally directing attacks against civilians, rape, sexual slavery.

He also was found guilty of ordering the displacement of the civilian population, conscripting and enlisting children under the age of 15 years into an armed group and using them to participate actively in hostilities.

Full list of charges

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