From January 16 to 20, judges from the International Criminal Court (ICC) took a site visit to Bogoro and surrounding villages in Ituri, Democratic Republic of Congo. The visit allowed the judges to see the scene of the alleged crimes that took place in Bogoro in February 2004. The judges were also able to visit the villages of the two accused, Germain Katanga and Mathieu Ngudjolo—Aveba and Zumbe, respectively. The Judges also visited Kambutso, which also featured heavily in witness testimony about where Mathieu Ngudjolo was on the day of the attack.
Katanga and Ngudjolo are charged with committing war crimes and crimes against humanity arising out of an attack on Bogoro during the conflict in Ituri. Both accused deny all charges against them.
The judges, Bruno Cotte (Presiding Judge), Fatoumata Dembele Diarra (ICC Vice-President), and Christine Van Den Wyngaert, considered that the trip was necessary in order to make findings and verify the testimony of witnesses who appeared in court. The trip also provided an opportunity for the ICC to increase its visibility and presence in the region.
The prosecution, defense, and legal representatives of victims joined the judges for their visit. The judges previously asked for submissions from the parties and participants on the issue. The prosecution contended that the trip was unnecessary given the testimony on record, especially given the considerable time and expense the trip would require. The defense for Ngudjolo supporteda site visit, stressing the importance for the Chamber to understand the geographic location of the villages in question and their distance from each other. According to publically available court records, Katanga’s defense team did not make submissions on the issue.
The ICC published photos of the trip, available here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/icc-cpi/sets/72157629051394811/.