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Closing Arguments Scheduled for May 15, 2012

Judges from Trial Chamber II at the International Criminal Court (ICC) have ordered the parties to submit their written final arguments in preparation for the closing statements, which are to begin on May 15, 2012. Upon receiving the briefs and hearing oral arguments, the judges will deliberate and then make a final determination on the guilt or innocence of the two accused.

Germain Katanga is the alleged commander commander of the Force de résistance patriotique en Ituri (FRPI) militia, and Mathieu Ngudjolo Chui is the alleged former leader of the Front des nationalistes et intégrationnistes (FNI) militia. These militias were both parties to the conflict in the Ituri region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The accused are charged with seven counts of war crimes and three counts of crimes against humanity allegedly committed during an attack on the village of Bogoro in early 2003. The defendants both deny all charges against them.

The prosecution and legal representatives for victims have to submit their written briefs on February 20, 2012. The prosecution brief must be no longer than 300 pages, the Judges ordered. The legal representative for victims of the attack on Bogoro must limit his submissions to 80 pages, while the legal representative for child soldiers has been allotted 40 pages for his final brief.

The defense teams must both submit their final briefs by March 26, 2012. Following discussions about translation challenges had during a December status conference, the defense team for Germain Katanga will receive an English translation of the prosecution’s brief on March 12, 2012 (the Katanga defense team’s primary language in English, while the other teams operate primarily in French). Both defense briefs must also be limited to 300 pages.

All of the briefs must address their legal and factual conclusions on the contextual elements of crimes against humanity and war crimes, the specific elements of the crimes the defendants are charged with, and the individual criminal liability of each accused.

The Trial Chamber denied requests by the Ngudjolo defense team and the legal representative for child soldiers to call additional witnesses. It also rejected a request by the legal representative for general victims to introduce a Human Rights Watch report on sexual violence during the war in the DRC.