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Katanga and Ngudjolo Chui CasesThe trial against alleged Congolese warlords Germain Katanga and Mathieu Ngudjolo Chui is the ICC's second trial. Katanga and Ngudjolo Chui are accused of war crimes and crimes against humanity allegedly committed in the village of Bogoro in the Ituri district of eastern DRC from January to March 2003. They are tried for alleged murder or willful killing, inhumane acts, sexual slavery, rape, cruel or inhuman treatment, using children to participate actively in hostilities, outrages upon personal dignity, intentional attack against the civilian population, pillaging and destruction of property. The trial commenced on 24 November 2009.
On 21 November 2012, Trial Chamber II decided to separate the joint case against the two suspects, as they are considering a change to Katanga’s mode of legal responsibility for the alleged crimes.
On 18 December 2012, Trial Chamber II found Ngudjolo Chui not guilty of the alleged crimes (see below for further information). The verdict in the case against Katanga is expected in 2013.
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ARREST WARRANTS AND SURRENDERS
On 18 October 2007, an arrest warrant listing nine counts of war crimes and four counts of crimes against humanity in the Ituri district of eastern DRC was unsealed for Germain Katanga, alleged commander of the Force de résistance patriotique en Ituri (FRPI). Alleged acts include murder or willful killing, inhumane acts, sexual slavery, rape, cruel or inhuman treatment, using children to participate actively in hostilities, outrages upon personal dignity, intentional attack against the civilian population, pillaging and destruction of property. The arrest warrant had been issued on 2 July but made public on 18 October 2008. Katanga was surrendered by the DRC authorities and transferred to the ICC on 17 October 2007.
On 7 February 2008, an arrest warrant listing similar war crimes and crimes against humanity was unsealed for Mathieu Ngudjolo Chui, a Congolese national and alleged former leader of the National integrationist Front (FNI) and a Colonel in the National Army of the government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo [Forces armées de la RDC/ Armed Forces of the DRC] (FARDC). The warrant of arrest had been issued on 6 July 2007 but made public on 7 February 2008. Ngudjolo Chui was surrendered by the DRC authorities and transferred to The Hague on 7 February 2008.
The initial appearance of Germain Katanga took place on 22 October 2007 at the ICC premises in The Hague. Mathieu Ngudjolo Chui appeared for the first time before the ICC on 11 February 2008. The aim of such initial public hearings are for the pre-trial chamber to satisfy itself that the suspects have been informed of the crimes which they are alleged to have committed, and of their rights under the Rome Statute, including the right to apply for interim release pending trial.
JOINDER OF THE CASES
On 10 March 2008 Pre-Trial Chamber I decided to join the Katanga and the Ngudjolo Chui cases as the two defendants were prosecuted for the same crimes. The Chamber stated that joining the cases would not prejudice the subjects or would not be contrary to the interest of justice, and that the cases could be severed at a later date if necessary.
CONFIRMATION OF CHARGES HEARING
Initially scheduled on 28 February 2008 and then on 21 May 2008, the confirmation of charges hearing in the case against Germain Katanga and Mathieu Ngudjolo Chui was postponed twice by Pre-Trial Chamber I to afford more preparation time to the parties involved. From 27 June to 18 July 2008, the Pre-Trial Chamber held a confirmation of charges hearing in the case against Germain Katanga and Mathieu Ngudjolo Chui. Germain Katanga was represented by David Hooper and Mathieu Ngudjolo Chui was represented by Jean Pierre Kilenda Kakengi Basila. Fifty-seven victims participated in the hearing through their legal representatives, Carine Bapita Buyagandu, Joseph Keta, Jean Louis Gilissen, Franck Mulenda and Hervé Diakiese.
On Friday, 26 September 2008 in The Hague, ICC Pre-Trial Chamber I confirmed all but three of the charges against Germain Katanga and Mathieu Ngudjolo Chui. The Chamber confirmed seven counts of war crimes and three counts of crimes against humanity. The judges found insufficient evidence to try Katanga and Ngudjolo Chui for inhuman treatment and outrages upon personal dignity (both war crimes). The Chamber also declined the charge of inhumane acts (a crime against humanity).
The Chamber confirmed the following war crimes committed during an attack on Bogoro village, on or about 24 February 2003: 1) Using children under the age of fifteen to take active part in the hostilities; 2) Directing an attack against a civilian population as such or against individual civilians not taking direct part in hostilities; 3) Willful killings; 4) Destruction of property; 5) Pillaging; 6) Sexual slavery; and 7) Rape.
The Chamber confirmed the following crimes against humanity: 1) Murder; 2) Rape; and 3) Sexual slavery.
Katanga and Ngudjolo Chui are detained in two of the 12 ICC cells of the ‘Haaglanden Prison’, in Scheveningen in The Hague. The Scheveningen prison is located less than twenty minutes by road from the Court. The International Committee of the Red Cross is visiting the Detention Centre on a regular basis.
In a decision issued on 27 March 2009, Trial Chamber II, composed of Judge Bruno Cotte, Judge Fatoumata Dembele Diarra, and Judge Christine Van den Wyngaert, set the commencement of the trial for Thursday, 24 September 2009. However, on 31st August 2009, Trial Chamber II decided to postpone the commencement of the trial to 24 November 2009.On that date the Katanga and Ngudjolo Chui trial commenced as scheduled.
On 2 December 2009, Trial Chamber II decided to postpone the hearings in the case due to a traffic accident which prevented Judge Christine van den Wyngaert from attending the hearings prior to the Court’s winter recess. The trial resumed on 26 January 2010.
On 8 December 2010, the prosecution completed presenting its case. The trial resumed on 21 February 2011 when the legal representatives for victims presented two witnesses.
On 24 March 2011, Katanga’s defense counsel began presenting evidence. On 15 August 2011, Ngudjolo Chui’s defense began to present its evidence. Both Katanga and Ngudjolo Chui testified in their own defense, on 27 September 2011 and 8 November 2011 respectively.
On 15-23 May 2012, closing oral statements were given by the Prosecutor, the defense teams and participating victims. Some 366 victims participated during the proceedings, several of whom are former child soldiers.
SEPARATION OF CASES
On 21 November 2012, the Trial Chamber decided to separate the two cases as the mode of criminally liability with which Katanga is charged may be subject to a legal modification by the Judges, and announced that the verdict against Ngudjolo Chui would be delivered on 18 December 2012 and the verdict in the case against Katanga at a later stage.
Katanga case suspended due to appeal
On 16 January, the Appeals Chamber suspended the trial of Germain Katanga in order to decide on a defense appeal against a TC II decision to consider a change to his al¬leged criminal responsibility. Trial judges may re-characterise Katanga’s alleged responsibility to contributing to war crimes and crimes against humanity by a group acting with a common purpose. The Prosecutor had charged Katanga with committing the crimes indirectly (using others to carry out the crimes).
VERDICT IN THE NGUDJOLO CHUI CASE
On 18 December 2012, Ngudjolo Chui—who the prosecution alleged was the leader of a Lendu militia group active in the Ituri region of eastern DRC—was found not guilty the charges brought against him. Judges stated that the prosecutor had failed to present sufficient evidence to prove beyond all reasonable doubt that Ngudjolo Chui was responsible for the commission of the alleged crimes during the attack on Bogoro village. This was on the basis of insufficient evidence having been presented by the prosecution that Ngudjolo Chui was the commander of Lendu combatants during the attack and due to certain key witnesses being found not to be credible. The Judges emphasized, however, that their decision did not mean that no crimes were committed in Bogoro or that the people of the community had not suffered in the attack.
The Chamber ordered the immediate release of Ngudjolo Chui. The Registry is currently making the necessary arrangements to release Ngudjolo Chui. On 20 December, in response to an OTP request that he remain in detention pending appeal, the Appeals Chamber announced that Ngudjolo Chui would not remain in detention during the appeals phase.
Ngudjolo Chui applies for asylum
Ngudjolo Chui is being held in an asylum detention center while his application for asylum in the Neth¬erlands is being processed. On 21 December 2012, he was released from ICC custody and handed to Dutch authorities to be repatriated to the DRC. However, Ngudjolo indicated that it would be unsafe for him to return to the DRC and made an asylum application. His defense has requested the Appeals Cham¬ber to order the Netherlands to hand him back to the ICC pending the outcome of the prosecution’s appeal of the decision to acquit him late last year.
See our press release for further information on the verdict.