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ICC to Rule on DRC Warlord Bosco Ntaganda Case Today

The International Criminal Court (ICC) will today Monday deliver its Judgment in the case against Congolese warlord, Bosco Ntaganda during a public hearing at the seat of the Court in The Hague, Netherlands.

At the hearing, the Trial Chamber will announce whether it finds the accused innocent or guilty of the charges, beyond reasonable doubt.

Ntaganda, former alleged Deputy Chief of Staff of the Forces Patriotiques pour la Libération du Congo [Patriotic Force for the Liberation of Congo] (FPLC), is accused of 13 counts of war crimes (murder and attempted murder; attacking civilians; rape; sexual slavery of civilians; pillaging; displacement of civilians; attacking protected objects; destroying the adversary’s property; and rape, sexual slavery, enlistment and conscription of children under the age of fifteen years and using them to participate actively in hostilities).

He also is accused of five crimes against humanity (murder and attempted murder; rape; sexual slavery; persecution; forcible transfer of population) allegedly committed in Ituri, DRC, in 2002-2003.

His trial which opened on 2 September 2015 ended on 30 August 2018.

Mr Ntaganda has been in the Court’s custody since he fled DRC in 2013 following intense fighting with a splinter group of his rebel movement led by Sultan Makenga.

He crossed to Rwanda before finding refuge at the United States embassy in Kigali from where he was sent to ICC for trial.

Ntaganda is being tried as a direct perpetrator and indirect co-perpetrator of crimes.

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However, the prosecution asked judges to consider adding an alternative mode of liability of “direct co-perpetration.”

Prosecutors claim Ntaganda led his soldiers into operations and ordered them to commit crimes. According to the testimony of a former FPLC soldier, the accused gave orders not to spare the enemy.

However, the trial also heard that Ntaganda ordered the execution of one of his soldiers who shot dead a civilian in Mongbwalu.

Witness P0901, a former FPLC insider, testified about the group’s structure and operations, including the central role Ntaganda played as its deputy chief of staff in charge of military operations and organization.

He said Ntaganda maintained a radio communication system at his residence, which enabled him to communicate to all UPC regional commanders.

The evidence of another former insider indicates the group used Motorola and Kenwood short-range radios and Thuraya satellite phones.

They also had phone base stations that could be used to communicate over a long distance, which could encrypt messages.

Over the course of 248 hearings, the Chamber heard 80 witnesses and experts called by the Office of the ICC Prosecutor, Ms Fatou Bensouda, 19 witnesses called by the Defence team lead by Mr Stéphane Bourgon and three witnesses called by the legal representatives of the victims participating in the proceedings, as well as five victims who presented their views and concerns.

A total of 2,123 victims, represented by their legal counsel, Ms Sarah Pellet and Mr Dmytro Suprun from the ICC Office for Public Counsel for the Victims, participated in the trial after having been authorised by the Chamber to do so.

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