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ICC: Germain Katanga and Mathieu Ngudjolo Chui trial starts on Tuesday

ICC - November 23, 2009
Germain Katanga
Germain Katanga

The trial in the case The Prosecutor v. Germain Katanga and Mathieu Ngudjolo Chui, which will open on Tuesday, 24 November, 2009, before Trial-Chamber II of the International Criminal Court (ICC), is the second trial in the context of the situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), referred to the Court by the Government of the DRC on 3 March, 2004. The hearings will be held from 9:30 to 16:00, until 11 December, 2009, and will resume on 26 January, 2010.

Germain Katanga, alleged commander of the Force de résistance patriotique en Ituri (Patriotic Resistance Force in Ituri, FRPI), and Mathieu Ngudjolo Chui, alleged former leader of the Front des nationalistes et intégrationnistes, (National Integrationist Front, FNI), are accused of three crimes against humanity (murder, sexual slavery and rape) and seven war crimes (using children under the age of 15 to take an active part in hostilities; deliberately directing an attack on a civilian population as such or against individual civilians or against individual civilians not taking direct part in hostilities; willful killing; destruction of property; pillaging; sexual slavery and rape).

Tuesday’s hearing will start with the reading, by a Court official, of the charges against Germain Katanga and Mathieu Ngudjolo Chui (duration, 30 minutes). Presiding Judge, Bruno Cotte will then satisfy himself, through the Defence Counsel, that the accused have understood the nature of the charges. He will further recall to the Defence that each of the accused has the opportunity to say at this stage whether he will plead guilty or not guilty, pursuant to 64 (8)(a) of the Rome Statute (duration, one hour). The Court’s Prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, will then take the floor for the opening statement (duration, one hour). He will be followed by the Legal Representatives of the Victims Fidel Nsita Luvengika and Jean-Louis Gilissen (duration, 40 minutes). Finally, the Defence Counsel for each of the accused will also proceed with opening statements (duration, 1 hour and 15 minutes).

The trial is expected to take several months. During the first part the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP), represented by Deputy Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda and Senior Trial Attorney Eric Macdonald will be presenting evidence at the OTP’s disposal, submitting to the attention of the judges a large number of documents which it has compiled in the case, as well as video tapes. It will also summon 26 witnesses, amongst whom will be one expert witness. The Chamber will also summons the chief of investigations of the Office of the Prosecutor in this case to testify, on 25 November, 2009, on the conditions under which the investigation took place. The Defence Counsel will then have the opportunity to cross-examine the witnesses. It should be noted that a large number of these witnesses (19 in total) are subject to protective measures and that they will be able to testify with respect for their anonymity (their image and voice might thus be distorted).

As soon as the Prosecution has finished its presentations, which will take a few months, the two Defence teams, led respectively by David Hooper and Jean-Pierre Kilenda Kakengi Basila, will present exculpatory evidence in its possession. In support of its theses, the Defence will call a number of witnesses. These will be examined by the Defence and cross-examined by the Prosecution.

The judges have recognised 345 persons as victims for the purpose of participating in the case of Germain Katanga and Mathieu Ngudjolo Chui. The interests of these persons will be defended by two legal representatives (lawyers who will present the observations and the arguments of the victims.

At the end of the hearings, the judges of Trial Chamber II will give their decision within a “reasonable period of time”. This decision will be pronounced in public: it will either acquit or condemn each of the accused.

The various parties to the trial will, if need be, be able to appeal the decision before the Appeal Chamber of the Court.

The case of The Prosecutor v. Germain Katanga and Mathieu Ngudjolo Chui is the second case in the situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo after that of Thomas Lubanga Dyilo, whose trial commenced on 26 January, 2009, before Trial Chamber I. A fourth warrant of arrest was issued by Pre-Trial Chamber I on 22 August, 2006, against Bosco Ntaganda, who remains at large. Investigations continue in the DRC, in the regions of Ituri and the Kivus, which may lead the Office of the Prosecutor to apply for the issuance of other warrants of arrest.

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