A prosecution witness has recounted how Bosco Ntaganda ordered the execution of a soldier from his Patriotic Forces for the Liberation of Congo (FPLC) militia because the soldier shot dead a civilian in the Congolese town of Mongbwalu in 2002.
Testifying in Ntaganda’s trial at the International Criminal Court (ICC) on November 17, 2015, Witness P-0859 stated that on the day his brother was shot dead, Thomas Kasangaki, who commanded the FPLC troops in Mongbwalu, sent soldiers to the home of the deceased. The soldiers asked the witness and his family if they needed any assistance such as food for the mourners.
According to the witness, the soldiers explained that anyone who killed would be “treated to similar treatment.” The FPLC militiamen also told the family that the soldier who had shot their kin was under arrest and his execution was awaiting orders from Ntaganda. At the time, Ntaganda, who was the group’s deputy chief of staff in charge of operations, was in the militia’s headquarters in Bunia town.
“We told them not to kill him but they said they were only waiting for orders to execute him. When they got orders, they did what they had to do,” said Witness P-0859. He did not state in open court why the soldier shot his brother.
The witness did not attend the execution but he heard gunshots and was told about the execution by those who witnessed it. “He was killed around 10 or 11 am and we buried our brother at 2pm,” he said. The witness said the execution took place in a parking lot in the middle of town.
Also in his testimony, Witness P-0859 stated that FPLC fighters arrested a Catholic priest from Mongbwalu parish and he believes the soldiers killed him at their camp at the Kilo Moto buildings. “He was killed quite simply because he was a Lendu. His colleagues had fled but he was too old to flee,” said the witness. The soldiers purportedly took possession of the priest’s vehicle, a white 4×4 Hilux.
The witness stated that he did not know where the priest was buried. However, about two years ago, a priest’s body was exhumed from the FPLC’s former camp and the witness believes it was the same priest killed during the war.
Prosecutors allege that FLPC troops committed crimes against civilians in the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s Ituri district, particularly those of Lendu ethnicity, during an armed conflict in 2002-2003. They claim Ntaganda personally shot a Catholic priest in Mongbwalu town after he denied knowledge of some documents.
The other crimes for which Ntaganda is on trial at the ICC include attempted murder, rape, sexual slavery, forced transfer of the population, displacement of civilians, attacks against protected objects, pillaging, destruction of property, and use of child soldiers.
Witness P-0859 continues to give evidence in the trial on Wednesday, November 18.