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Germain Katanga Granted Early Release

On November 13, a panel of three appeals judges at the International Criminal Court (ICC) decided to reduce Germain Katanga’s sentence. He will be released from the ICC detention center on January 18, 2016.

In March 2014, Trial Chamber II of the ICC convicted Katanga for crimes against humanity and war crimes committed in Bogoro, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) in 2003. He was sentenced to 12 years’ imprisonment. Katanga decided not to appeal his judgment, accepting the ICC’s verdict and sentence. As of September 18, 2015, he had served two-thirds of his sentence, prompting a judicial review of his remaining term.

There are seven factors the judges had to consider under Article 110 of the Rome Statute and Rule 223 of the Rules of Procedure and Evidence. The judges found that the following four factors weighed in favor of reducing his sentence: 1) Katanga cooperated with the ICC in its investigations and prosecutions; 2) he showed a genuine dissociation from his crimes; 3) it is likely that he will be successfully re-socialized and resettled in the DRC; and 4) Katanga has an increased level of family responsibilities given recent deaths in his family.

In particular, the panel found that Katanga’s genuine dissociation from his crimes and his early and continuing cooperation with the court warrant a “substantial” reduction of his sentence.

The judges found that a fifth factor—that although his early release may lead to some social instability in the DRC, it would not be significant—was a “neutral” factor and did not weigh in favor or against his early release.

The panel did not find two factors to be present: 1) any voluntary assistance in enabling the enforcement of the judgments and orders of the Court in other cases, and in particular providing assistance in locating assets subject to orders of fine, forfeiture, or reparation which may be used for the benefit of victims; or 2) any significant action taken for the benefit of the victims as well as any impact on the victims and their families as a result of the early release.

Balancing these factors, the judges decided to reduce Katanga’s sentence by three years and eight months, leading to a release planned for January 18, 2016.

This is likely to be a controversial decision. A fuller analysis of the issues will be forthcoming on IJ Monitor.