News / Africa

International Criminal Court Convicts Congolese Warlord

FILE - Germain Katanga, a Congolese national, sits in the courtroom of the ICC during the closing statements in the trial against Katanga and Ngudjolo Chui in The Hague.
FILE - Germain Katanga, a Congolese national, sits in the courtroom of the ICC during the closing statements in the trial against Katanga and Ngudjolo Chui in The Hague.
Henry Ridgwell
The International Criminal Court in The Hague has convicted former Congolese warlord Germain Katanga of being an accessory to crimes against humanity.  But he was cleared of more serious charges relating to atrocities carried out in 2003.  Katanga’s guilty verdict is just the second conviction in the court’s 12-year history.  

At the end of a trial lasting six years, Presiding Judge Bruno Cotte delivered the court’s verdict Friday.

He announced that the Chamber declares Germain Katanga guilty as an accessory to the crimes committed on 24th of February 2003, of murder as a crime against humanity.

The conviction marks only a partial victory for the prosecution, says Phil Clark, an expert on the ICC from London’s School of Oriental and African Studies.  

“The more important charges around whether Katanga orchestrated these massacres in Ituri province in northeastern Congo; whether he was responsible for rape, sexual slavery, and the use of child soldiers.  They’ll be disappointed that those charges didn’t stick," said Clark.

Katanga led a militia group called the Patriotic Resistance Force in Ituri, a diamond-rich part of northeast Congo.

In one attack in February 2003, prosecutors said at least 200 civilians died as Katanga directed child soldiers in a killing spree.  Women and girls were allegedly forced to become sex slaves.

Katanga was found guilty of supplying guns in the massacre - but not of directing it.

The failure to convict on those charges lies with ICC prosecutors, says Phil Clark.

“The ICC has been doing its investigations on the cheap.  It’s been using a really small group of investigators who haven’t spent an enormous amount of time in Congo.  The prosecution has cut corners, they’ve used local Congolese intermediaries to do a lot of their dirty work.  And as a result of that these cases haven’t been systematically built," he said.

One of the judges gave a dissenting opinion on the verdict -- saying the decision to convict Katanga as an accessory, when he had first been charged with playing a central role, meant the trial was unfair.

ICC Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda disagreed.

“Today's verdict is part of an independent and impartial judicial process, which pays homage to the highest standards of the due process," said Bensouda.

Katanga’s co-accused, former warlord Mathieu Nngudjolo Chui, was acquitted in 2012 after prosecutors failed to prove he had directed massacres in 2003.

Legal observers say Germain Katanga’s defense team is likely to appeal his guilty verdict.

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Comment Sorting
by: Leroy Padmore from: Jersey City
March 12, 2014 2:43 AM
We don't condone such a vigorous act in Africa. We are glad that the court brought Ngunjolo to justice. Justice has been served for all the women he rape. However, this ICC is only for the African people? Look at what Mr. Putin is doing right in Ukraine, why the IC cannot do something about it? The ICC and IC are bias in making decisions. they only make decision that affects the third world countries. Mr. Putin is a brutal leader, he needs to be brought to justice. it is time for the ICC and IC to stop their hypocrisy. And let there be equal justice to all man who will violate the ICC laws. and not only the African people. One of the thing I see is this, being an African, Our African leaders are weak and they are dependent on the west for their money and other resources. and If they cannot stand on their own, they will always be a bagger. And the west will give them hand over. It is time that Africa get their priority in order. It is time for Africa to lead.

by: ali baba from: new york
March 07, 2014 5:22 PM
why international court has not arrested suddenness leader and convict his for the two civil war that kill millions of people

by: Cherry Picking
March 07, 2014 1:32 PM
The ICC needs to apply its mind to those still outstanding for genocide in Southern Africa - they also need to set their moral compass ?

by: Bob from: USA
March 07, 2014 4:28 AM
Who is the ICC to hold trial over anyone that is not Dutch? You folks need to stick your nose where it belongs. On another continent is not where you should stick your nose in. What you need to do is put on trial all the ziodogs that have enslaved your people the Dutch.

by: Xaaji Dhagax from: Somalia
March 07, 2014 3:23 AM
Here we go again!

ICC is undoubtedly becoming a "court club" where black African leaders are exclusively prosecuted. Wondering who is next in line to be brought there for prosecution and humiliation??

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