On Nov. 3, a witness recounted how members of his family were killed by troops belonging to the Patriotic Forces for the Liberation of Congo (FPLC), which were allegedly commanded by Bosco Ntaganda.
Witness P-016 said his father was shot dead while his wife and children were “decapitated” when the FPLC took control of Kobu and surrounding towns in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
“I searched among the dead bodies and all of my children and my wife were amongst the people killed,” said the witness, who was testifying in Ntaganda’s trial at the International Criminal Court (ICC).
“My wife had been decapitated and it was the same thing for one of my daughters. My son was also decapitated,” stated the witness.
Asked about the state of the other bodies, the witness replied, “All other bodies were in the same condition. They had been decapitated or disemboweled.” He said there were “many bodies” out in the open and it was “difficult to count the number of bodies.”
Witness P-016 said he moved the bodies of his family members to his home village for burial. Meanwhile, in a neighboring village, the witness found that his father had been shot dead. “He was shot in the back,” said Witness P-016.
Ntaganda is on trial over war crimes and crimes against humanity he allegedly committed with his FPLC troops during the 2002–2003 ethnic conflict in the DRC. The troops constituted the armed wing of the Union of Congolese Patriots, a group that was led by Thomas Lubanga who is serving a 14-year prison term at the ICC over recruiting and using child soldiers.
According to Witness P-016, FPLC troops attacked his village and arrested numerous residents, including him. “They hit us with sticks. I was struck on the back and on my head,” he said. To-date, said the witness, he still feels pain from injuries sustained to his head.
The witness and some of the area residents escaped from their captors and fled to the bush. He described the attackers as “Bosco’s men.”
Captives who were unable to flee were tied up and killed, he said. It was upon his return from the bush that Witness P-016 found the bodies of his father, wife, and children.
During further questioning, prosecutors showed the witness a photo that depicted his dead wife. He said he was “highly traumatized” the first time he saw the photo and did not want to see it again. No further questions were put to the witness about the photo.
Prior to his appearance before judges on Tuesday, there was no request for protective measures for Witness P-016. However, due to undisclosed “new information,” which could potentially impact his safety and security, the witness requested in-court protective measures.
Judges granted him partial protective measures including the use of a pseudonym and private session during questioning related to his identity, relatives, and occupation. The witness’s face and voice were not distorted during public broadcasts of his testimony.
The prosecution continues its questioning of Witness P-016 on Wednesday November 4, 2015.