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Congo, The Democratic Republic of the; International Criminal Court: ICC Begins Prosecuting Former Warlords

(Dec. 1, 2009) It was reported on November 23, 2009, that the International Criminal Court (ICC) has now begun trying two former Congo rebel leaders, Germain Katanga and Mathieu Ngudjolo Chui, for their alleged involvement in crimes committed in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) in 2003. (International Criminal Court Trial of Two Former Leaders Opens Tomorrow, UN NEWS SERVICE, Nov. 23, 2009, available at

Katanga, who was a senior commander of a group called Force De Résistance Patriotique en Ituri (FRPI), and Chui, who was the commander of the National Integrationist Front (FNI), are each facing charges of three counts of crimes against humanity and seven counts of war crimes. (Id.) These charges stem from their alleged involvement in the planning and execution of an assault on the village of Bogoro (in Ituri Province) in February of 2003, in which hundreds of people were killed and many women were subjected to sexual slavery. (Id.) The charges also include the use of children under the age of 15 in the assault against the village. (Id.) Katanga and Chui have both pleaded not guilty to all the charges. (Mike Corder, 2 Warlords Plead Innocent in Congo Massacre Trial, DAILY ME, Nov. 24, 2009, available at

ICC prosecutors claim that the two men led child soldiers and older fighters armed with automatic weapons, machetes, and spears in an attack on the village of Bogoro that went far beyond a legitimate military campaign and left hundreds of men, women, and children dead. (Id.) In his opening statement, Luis Moreno Ocampo, ICC prosecutor, said, “some were shot in their sleep, some cut up with machetes to preserve bullets. Others were burned alive after their houses were set on fire.” (Id.) Prosecutors plan to call 26 witnesses to prove their case against the two defendants. (Id.)

Attorneys for about 345 victims and former child soldiers are said to be taking part in the trial. (Id.)