International Justice Monitor

A project of the Open Society Justice Initiative

Lubanga Appeals Hearing Postponed

International Criminal Court (ICC) judges have postponed the testimony of two witnesses who were scheduled to give evidence in support of Thomas Lubanga’s appeal against his conviction and 14-year prison sentence.

‘Witness D-0040′ and ‘Witness D-0041′ were expected to testify on April 14 and 15 via video link from an undisclosed location. However, the court’s registry informed judges that it was not possible to organize the logistics necessary for the witnesses to testify on these dates.

On March 14, 2012, Mr. Lubanga was found guilty as a co-perpetrator of recruiting, conscripting, and using child soldiers in the armed wing of the Union of Congolese Patriots (UPC). The judges found that these children were actively used in an armed conflict during 2002 and … Continue Reading

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Two Witnesses to Testify at Lubanga Appeals Hearing

Thomas Lubanga, the first person convicted by the International Criminal Court (ICC), will call two witnesses next month to provide additional evidence in support of his appeals against conviction and 14-year jail term.

According to an order issued Friday by the Appeals Chamber, ‘Witness D-0040’ and ‘Witness D-0041’ would testify on April 14 and 15 via video link from an undisclosed location.

In March 2012, Mr. Lubanga was found guilty of recruiting and conscripting children under the age of 15 and actively using them in an armed conflict in the Ituri region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The crimes were committed during 2002 and 2003.

In July of the same year, the trial chamber handed him a 14-year jail sentence. However, … Continue Reading

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Ntaganda Confirmation of Charges Hearing Ends

On the last day of Congolese rebel leader Bosco Ntaganda’s confirmation of charges hearings at the International Criminal Court (ICC), his lawyers told judges the charges against him were based on “incorrect information.”

Defense lawyer Marc Desalliers said it was not true that Mr. Ntaganda raped an unnamed prosecution witness.

He also maintained that a video filmed in November 2002, which both the prosecution and the defense presented as part of their evidence, showed that the Patriotic Forces for the Liberation of Congo (FPLC) was making peace not brutalizing civilians.

Mr. Ntaganda was the deputy chief of staff of the FPLC, which prosecutors claim carried out ethnically motivated attacks against civilians in Congo’s Ituri province.

Yesterday, prosecution lawyer Nicole Samson said the video footage … Continue Reading

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Try Ntaganda, Prosecutors Ask ICC Judges

International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutors have dismissed as “far from the truth” claims that Bosco Ntaganda’s militia group worked for peace and embraced people from all ethnic groups. They affirmed that there was sufficient evidence to commit Mr. Ntaganda to trial.

While delivering final submissions in the confirmation of charges hearing, prosecution lawyer Nicole Samson said the testimony of 18 eye witnesses, 10 former insiders in the Union of Congolese Patriots (UPC), six independent observers, plus video and documentary evidence, showed that the group committed crimes against non-Hema civilians.

“The public remarks of UPC military leaders do not undermine the testimony of these witnesses,” said Ms. Samson.

Yesterday, defense lawyer Marc Desalliers presented a video in which residents of Mongbwalu town in Congo … Continue Reading

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Defense: Ntaganda Was a Peacemaker

Today, defense lawyers portrayed war crimes accused Bosco Ntaganda as a peace maker who was warmly welcomed by residents of a town that had been besieged by a murderous ethnic militia.

In a video played to judges, some residents of Mongbwalu said they had returned to their homes after Mr. Ntaganda’s Patriotic Forces for the Liberation of Congo (FPLC) troops took control of the town and provided “security.”

The same video was played yesterday by prosecutors to show judges that Mr. Ntaganda was the military commander of a group that committed rape and pillaged Mongbwalu and that he recruited, trained, and used child soldiers.

“It is hard for us to understand that the prosecution can maintain that the aim of the FPLC operations … Continue Reading

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Prosecutor: Ntaganda Killed a Priest, Ordered Soldiers to Rape

Bosco Ntaganda shot a priest and gave his bodyguards orders to rape, International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutors claimed during the confirmation of charges hearing.

They said the Congolese militia leader personally arrested and detained the priest of Mongbwalu parish and three nuns. Ntaganda then “personally shot and killed the priest” whose name prosecutors did not give.

The alleged murder took place on November 25, 2002 shortly after troops of the Patriotic Forces for the Liberation of Congo (FPLC) took over the towns of Mongbwalu and Sayo in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The prosecution also claimed that on Mr. Ntaganda’s orders, his bodyguards raped three women who were being held captive in the apartment in Mongbwalu where Mr. Ntaganda was staying. It was … Continue Reading

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Ntaganda’s Confirmation of Charges Hearing Opens at ICC

Ten months after he surrendered to the International Criminal Court (ICC), Congolese militia leader Bosco Ntaganda today appeared before the court for hearings to decide whether charges against him should go to trial.

Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said Mr. Ntaganda and the Patriotic Force for the Liberation of Congo (FPLC) militia in which he was a commander persecuted civilians, committed murder, rape, sexual enslavement, and pillaging.

“The notorious commander known as ‘The Terminator’ is here before you because of his role in pursuing a campaign of terror against women and children” and failing to stop or punish his soldiers who committed crimes, she said.

However, Mr. Ntaganda’s lawyer Marc Desalliers accused prosecutors of late disclosure of evidence to the defense, failure to present a focused … Continue Reading

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Prosecutor Denies Withholding Exculpatory Evidence from Lubanga’s Lawyers

The International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor has denied withholding exculpatory information from the defense of Thomas Lubanga, who was convicted in 2012 of using child soldiers.

In a January 31, 2014 filing, Fatou Bensouda asked judges to reject a defense petition to add to Mr. Lubanga’s appeal grounds the prosecution’s alleged disclosure failure.

Last December, defense lawyer Catherine Mabille said although prosecutors had since 2004 possessed the two documents containing the names and photographs of members of Mr. Lubanga’s personal security detail, they only disclosed them to the defense in December 2013.

Mr. Lubanga wants the two documents, together with correspondences between the defense and prosecution relating to their disclosure, to be considered as additional evidence and new grounds in support of his … Continue Reading

Judge Denies Ntaganda’s Request For Release From ICC Custody

Congolese militia leader Bosco Ntaganda’s application for interim release from the custody of the International Criminal Court (ICC) has been turned down by the single judge handling his case. Judge Ekaterina Trendafilova ruled that Mr. Ntaganda should stay in court custody as he was a flight risk and had the potential to threaten or influence witnesses.

On March 18, 2013, Mr. Ntaganda walked into the American embassy in Rwanda and asked to be transferred to The Hague where two arrest warrants had been issued against him. The first warrant – issued in 2006 – alleged that Mr. Ntaganda, along with Thomas Lubanga, recruited, enlisted, and used child soldiers in armed conflict during 2002 and 2003.

The second warrant – issued in July … Continue Reading

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Judges Reject Lubanga’s Request For a Hearing to Schedule His Appeal

International Criminal Court (ICC) appeals judges have rejected a request by Thomas Lubanga to call a status conference to set the schedule for his appeals against conviction and the 14-year jail term handed him by trial judges.

The Congolese political leader, who was convicted last year over the use of child soldiers, had indicated in a July 22, 2013 filing that the appeal process was dragging.

On August 27, 2013, the judges ruled that at this stage, the appeals chamber did not consider it necessary to convene a status conference for the purpose of setting the schedule for the appeals. “Should it be deemed appropriate to hold an oral hearing in these proceedings, the parties and participants will be informed accordingly,” the … Continue Reading