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​ICC Sentences Congolese Militia Leader to 12 Years in Jail

Germain Katanga, a Congolese National, sits during his trial at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the Hague, May 23, 2014.
The International Criminal Court (ICC) has sentenced former Congolese militia leader Germain Katanga to 12 years in prison for his part in a 2003 massacre.

The ICC had earlier convicted Katanga of war crimes and crimes against humanity, after ruling that he helped facilitate and organize the militia group that carried out attacks in Bogoro village, in the eastern D.R.C.

Those attacks killed about 200 people.

Brigid Inder is the executive director of Women's Initiatives for Gender Justice, a human rights group that advocates through the ICC. She told VOA the sentence seems light compared to the conviction.

"We find it difficult to reconcile a 12-year sentence as reflecting the gravity of the crimes, the ongoing impact of victims of Bogoro and also Katanga’s level of responsibility for this attack," said Inder.

Inder says the court appears to have taken a number of mitigating factors into account when considering the sentence.

“They mentioned his young age," said Inder. "At the time he was the commander, he was, I think, around 24 years of age. They mentioned a couple of times that he is the father of six young children. They also noted his contribution to protecting his own community during hostilities and compared him as being better than some of the other commanders within his militia group.”

Katanga has already spent seven years in prison. Judge Bruno Cotte ruled Friday that the time he has served will be deducted from his sentence.

Earlier, the court had acquitted the former warlord of charges of rape, sexual violence and using child soldiers.

Katanga showed no emotion as the judge announced his sentence, on Friday. He had pleaded not guilty, saying he did not have direct control over the fighters. His lawyers have appealed the conviction.

Katanga, who is nicknamed "Simba," is the second person to be sentenced by the ICC, which was started in 2002.