News / Africa

Congo Warlord's ICC Acquittal Raises Questions

Presiding Judge Bruno Cotte from France (L) and Judge Christine Van Den Wyngaert from Belgium (R) stand during the verdict of the trial of Congolese warlord Mathieu Ngudjolo Chui at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, December 18, 2012.
Presiding Judge Bruno Cotte from France (L) and Judge Christine Van Den Wyngaert from Belgium (R) stand during the verdict of the trial of Congolese warlord Mathieu Ngudjolo Chui at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, December 18, 2012.
Anne Look
The International Criminal Court has acquitted former Congolese militia leader Mathieu Ngudjolo Chui of war crimes and crimes against humanity in connection with a 2003 village massacre.  Human rights groups are calling the verdict a "hard blow" to the victims in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, where violence continues to this day.

The three ICC judges said prosecutors failed to prove "beyond reasonable doubt" that Ngudjolo ordered the vicious 2003 massacre of 200 civilians in Bogoro village of eastern Congo's Ituri province. They cited insufficient evidence.

The judges delivered their unanimous verdict Tuesday at The Hague.

Related - ICC Acquits Congolese Militia Leader of War Crimes

The Congolese army colonel and former militia leader faced three counts of crimes against humanity and seven counts of war crimes that included using child soldiers to murder, rape and force women and girls into sexual slavery as part of the day-long massacre.

The judges emphasized in a statement that their verdict does not mean that Ngudjolo is innocent of any atrocities, nor does it call into question the serious crimes committed in Bogoro that day or the suffering of that community.

This was the ICC's second verdict, and first acquittal, in its now 10-year existence.  Experts say it is a signal that the ICC may need to rethink how it gathers evidence on the ground and how it builds cases.

Human Rights Watch Senior DRC Researcher, Anneke Van Woudenberg, said there were "clear weaknesses" in this case.

"Remember that in a place like Ituri, there were multiple massacres that occurred over a number of years.  What the judges said today was that they could not beyond reasonable doubt be sure that for this particular massacre, Mathieu Ngudjolo had been the leader of the group at the time. But they did say, they were clear, that Mathieu Ngudjolo had been a key leader of the militia later on and that he did hold command responsibility in the months that followed," said Van Woudenberg. "So it should give some pause for thought to the prosecution that building cases which are so limited on the base of only one massacre without more broadly looking at what happened in the context of Ituri is dangerous and doesn't give us good justice."

Van Woudenberg says the ICC needs to aim even higher up the command structure.

"Which of course means that the finger will be pointing at more senior level individuals in Kinshasa, in Uganda, in Rwanda, all of whom provided weapons and ammunition to these local militia groups," she said. "They are the ones really who should be held to account for some of the horrific atrocities that people in Ituri suffered."

Related - ICC Press Release

The Bogoro attack took place on February 24, 2003, toward the end of the second Congo war.

In her closing arguments in May, ICC chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda described how more than 200 villagers were "systematically targeted and brutally killed."  She said they were hacked to death with machetes, burnt alive in their homes, and raped.

Bensouda has indicated she will appeal Tuesday's acquittal.  Ngudjolo remains in custody pending appeal proceedings.

He was tried with another militia commander, Germain Katanga, in relation to the same massacre.  Their cases were separated in November.  Katanga's verdict is expected next year.

You May Like

African States Push to Keep Boko Haram Offline

Central African telecoms ministers working with Nigeria to block all videos posted by Boko Haram in effort to blunt Nigerian militant group's propaganda More

Falling Oil Prices, Internet-Savvy Youth Pose Challenge for Gulf Monarchies

Across the Gulf, younger generations are putting a strain on traditional politics More

Philippines Call Center Workers Face Challenges

Country has world’s largest business process outsourcing, or BPO, industry, employing some one-million workers More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More