Today, the International Criminal Court (ICC) announced that the appeal judgment on the acquittal of Mathieu Ngudjolo Chui will be delivered on Tuesday, February 24. Trial Chamber II acquitted Ngudjolo of all charges on December 18, 2012 after they severed his trial from co-accused Germain Katanga.
Ngudjolo was charged with seven counts of war crimes (using children under the age of fifteen to take active part in hostilities, directing an attack against civilians, willful killing, destruction of property, pillaging, sexual slavery, and rape) and three counts of crimes against humanity (murder, rape, and sexual slavery) allegedly committed during an attack on the village of Bogoro in the Ituri region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) on February 24, 2003.
The trial chamber concluded that the prosecution had failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Ngudjolo was the commander of a group of Lendu combatants (known as the National Integration Front – FNI) who allegedly participated in the attack on Bogoro. The judges did not make any findings on the alleged crimes.
The Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) challenged the acquittal shortly thereafter and raised three grounds of appeal. The prosecution argued that the trial chamber misapplied the criminal standard of proof, erred by failing to consider the totality of the evidence and facts for its decision-making, and infringed on the prosecution’s right to a fair trial under Article 64(2) of the Rome Statute – referring to the prosecution’s argument that the trial chamber committed “critical errors” in managing the trial that materially affected its case. Among other remedies, the OTP is requesting that the Appeals Chamber reverse the acquittal of Ngudjolo and remand the case for a retrial before another trial chamber.
The Appeals Chamber held a hearing on the grounds of appeal on October 21, 2014 where the prosecution, defense, legal representatives of victims, as well as Ngudjolo himself addressed the chamber. At the time of his acquittal, Ngudjolo’s case was only the second trial at the ICC to reach the judgment phase. Since then, his former co-accused Katanga has been convicted of four war crimes and one crime against humanity.