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Ntaganda Trial Goes on Break after Testimony of Ninth Prosecution Witness

The trial of former Congolese militia leader Bosco Ntaganda at the International Criminal Court (ICC) has gone on break until January 18, 2016. The break came after the ninth prosecution witness concluded his testimony.

The November 18, 2015 cross-examination of Witness P-0859 by the defense was done in closed session. However, when he first took the witness stand on November 17, the witness recounted the UPC’s invasion of his hometown of Mongbwalu in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). According to the witness, there was fierce fighting between the Patriotic Forces for the Liberation of Congo (FPLC) militia and the Congolese Popular Army (APC), another rebel group. During the fighting, the witness’s brother was shot dead by an FPLC soldier. The soldier was allegedly arrested and Ntaganda later ordered his execution for the civilian’s death.

Ntaganda faces 18 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity that were allegedly committed while he was deputy military head of the FPLC. The purported crimes were committed against civilians in Congo’s Ituri district during ethnic conflict in 2002 and 2003.

His trial opened at the ICC in September 2015. Prior its start, judges ruled that hearings would be scheduled in blocks of five to six weeks at a time, followed by breaks of up to two weeks. At the time, presiding Judge Robert Fremr said a schedule of this nature would facilitate the work of the parties and ensure that the trial is conducted in an efficient manner.

Before adjourning on Wednesday November 18, Judge Fremr announced that upon resumption in January 2016, hearings in the trial would continue to February 26, except for a brief interruption during the confirmation hearings in the case of Dominic Ongwen which are also expected to open in January 2016. One of the judges on the Ntaganda trial chamber also sits on the Ongwen pre-trial chamber.

According to its end of year calendar, the court is expected to move to its new premises at the end of this month. Thereafter, the court goes on winter recess until January 4, 2016.

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