The Democratic Republic of Congo’s Information Minister says his country’s official radio and television will provide live coverage of Tuesday’s trial of Congolese militiamen at the International Criminal Court in The Hague.
Lambert Mende reiterated his government’s support for the trial of those accused of carrying out the 2003 massacre of at least 200 Congolese in the Ituri district.
“Not only do we support that trial, but we also are prepared to dispatch it by our national radio and national television. So that every Congolese in Kinshasa and all the 11 provinces and Ituri where the atrocities have been committed can follow it and see that we are very committed to punish everybody who violates human rights in our country,” he said.
Prosecutors accuse Germain Katanga and Mathieu Ngudjolo of spearheading the Bogoro village massacre. The two face 10 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity -- including using child soldiers to murder, maim and pillage.
Defense attorneys say their clients are in fact victims of the war.
Katanga was the leader of the Patriotic Resistance Force, while Ngudjolo headed the Nationalist and Integrationist Front during the massacre.
Critics characterize Tuesday’s scheduled live broadcast of the trial as mere government propaganda. They also accuse Kinshasa of ethnic bias as both of the accused are ethnic Lendus while the Hema ethnic group lives in Bogoro village where the massacre reportedly took place.
Minister Mende rejects the charge.
“The leader of the Hema group is with them there in The Hague and he was sued and he was presented to the tribunal…so being a Hema or being a Lendu does not give anybody the allowance to kill Congolese… when you are a criminal, you can be a Lendu you can be a Hema, we must sue you,” Mende said.