Mathieu Ngudjolo Chui

Mathieu Ngudjolo Chui at an ICC hearing in February 2015. © ICC-CPI
Alleged Congolese militia leader Mathieu Ngudjolo Chui was acquitted at the ICC of crimes against humanity and war crimes in December 2012. He was subsequently deported to the DRC.
Status
Concluded
Regions: 
Africa
Mathieu Ngudjolo Chui was allegedly one of three former leaders of the Front des Nationalistes et Intégrationnistes (Allied Forces of the Nationalist and Integrationist Front, FNI), an armed rebel group fighting for political and military control of Ituri in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). He was alleged to have been pivotal in planning and executing an attack against Bogoro village in Ituri around 24 February 2003 - a joint effort with the Forces de Résistance Patriotique d’Ituri (FRPI), whose commanders included Germain Katanga. ICC warrants were issued for the arrest of Katanga (2007) and Ngudjolo (2008).

Ngudjolo Chui was acquitted of crimes against humanity and war crimes charges on 18 December 2012, and released from ICC custody on 21 December 2012. The acquittal was affirmed by the Appeals Chamber on 27 February 2015. Subsequent applications for asylum in Switzerland and the Netherlands were rejected and he was deported to DRC in May 2015.

Background

Bogoro village massacre

A violent armed conflict between Lendu, Ngiti, and Hema ethnic groups consumed eastern DRC's Ituri province from 1999-2003. On 24 February 2003, the Force de résistance patriotique d'Ituri (FRPI) and the Front des Nationalistes et Intégrationnistes (FNI) militias, consisting of Ngiti and Lendu rebels respectively, launched a reprisal operation against Hema civilians in Bogoro, a strategic point on the road between district capital Bunia and the Ugandan border - the Hema-dominated Union des Patriotes Congolais (UPC) had seized control of Bunia with Uganda's assistance in 2002. Evidence from the attack shows murder, pillaging, destruction of property, sexual crimes, and the use of FRPI child soldiers. 200 civilians were killed, and following the attack, Hema civilians' property was pillaged and women and girls from Bogoro abducted to serve as "wives" for combatants.

ICC seeks arrest of Mathieu Ngudjolo Chui and Germain Katanga

Mathieu Ngudjolo Chui was allegedly one of three former leaders of the Front des Nationalistes et Intégrationnistes (Allied Forces of the Nationalist and Integrationist Front, FNI), an armed rebel group fighting for political and military control of Ituri in the DRC. He was alleged to have been pivotal in planning and executing an attack against Bogoro village in Ituri around 24 February 2003 - a joint effort with the Forces de Résistance Patriotique d’Ituri (FRPI), whose commanders included Germain Katanga. ICC warrants were issued for the arrest of Katanga (2007) and Ngudjolo (2008).
 

Charges

Ngudjolo was charged of three counts of crimes against humanity (murder, sexual slavery, and rape) and seven counts of war crimes (willful killing, directing an attack against civilians, pillaging, destruction of property, use of child soldiers, rape, and sexual slavery). The case marked the first time crimes against humanity and sexual- and gender-based crimes charges were brought by the ICC prosecutor.

Katanga and Ngudjolo sent to trial; cases then severed 

Pre-Trial Chamber I decided on 10 March 2008 to try Katanga jointly with Mathieu Ngudjolo Chui, former commander of FNI, as a co-perpetrator of a common plan to execute the attack on Bogoro. The cases were later separated, however, due to the possibility of Katanga's mode of criminal liability charges being amended to 'accessory' based on the role played by FPRI combatants in the Bogoro attack. ICC judges noted this change could prejudice Ngudjolo's right to a fair and expeditious trial.

The joint Katanga and Ngudjolo trial commenced on 24 November 2009.
 

Verdict

Ngudjolo was unanimously acquitted of all charges on 18 December 2012. The judges concluded that the prosecution had failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Ngudjolo served as FNI commander when over 200 people were killed in the Bogoro attacks. As such, consideration as to whether the violence was linked to a common plan involving Ngudjolo was precluded. A majority of the Appeals Chamber affirmed the acquittal on 27 February 2015, while two of the seven judges dissenting on the grounds that a new trial should have been ordered to correct errors affecting the fairness of the original proceedings.  

Challenges

 Ngudjolo has filed for compensation from the ICC following his acquittal. He also twice applied for asylum in the Netherlands; both applications were rejected, as was a subsequent humanitarian visa application to Switzerland. A request to the European Court of Human Rights for interim measures was similarly unsuccessful. Ngudjolo was ultimately deported to the DRC in May 2015. 

Civil society has been actively calling on states to enter into voluntary cooperation agreements to host at-risk ICC suspects in the case of acquittal or non-confirmation of charges. No state has thus far accepted the Court’s model agreement to this effect.