Tuesday, July 13, 2010

DR. Congo: Trial of Congolese militia leader will go on

UN - Judges at the International Criminal Court (ICC) today dismissed a request by Congolese militia leader Germain Katanga to have the war crimes case against him dropped.

Mr. Katanga, a senior commander from the group known as the Force de RĂ©sistance Patriotique en Ituri (FRPI), faces three counts of crimes against humanity and six counts of war crimes for a deadly assault on the village of Bogoro, in the Ituri province in the east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

Hundreds of people were killed in the February 2003 attack and many women forced into sexual slavery. He is on trial with another Congolese rebel leader, Mathieu Ngudjolo Chui, a former commander of the National Integrationalist Front (FNI), who faces three counts of crimes against humanity and six of war crimes, and is alleged to have played a key role in designing and carrying out the Bogoro attack.

Mr. Katanga filed a motion on 30 June 2009 requesting that his detention be declared unlawful and a stay of proceedings against him for his alleged unlawful arrest and detention in the DRC prior to his surrender to the Court.

In November 2009, the Court’s Trial Chamber rejected that motion, finding that it was submitted seven months too late.

In today’s decision, the Appeals Chamber found that the November 2009 decision of the Trial Chamber “did not infringe Mr Katanga’s right to a fair hearing and that he had been given adequate notice and opportunity to raise the issue of his alleged unlawful pre-surrender arrest and detention.”

Located in The Hague, in the Netherlands, the ICC is an independent, permanent court that tries persons accused of the most serious crimes of international concern – namely genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.