Following an eight-week break, the trial of Congolese military commander Bosco Ntaganda is scheduled to resume on Monday, January 18, 2016 at the International Criminal Court (ICC). Since the opening of the trial in September 2015, the prosecution has called nine witnesses to testify against the former deputy chief of staff of the Patriotic Forces for the Liberation of Congo (FPLC) militia.
At the opening of the trial, prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said the prosecution intended to call up to 80 witnesses, including experts, insiders who worked with Ntaganda, victims, and eyewitnesses to testify about the crimes allegedly committed by the accused and his soldiers. It is not known if the prosecution still intends to call this number of witnesses.
On June 10, 2014, pre-trial judges confirmed 18 charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity against Ntaganda–the largest number of charges so far taken to trial at the ICC. They include murder, attempted murder, rape, sexual slavery, and use of child soldiers, forced transfer of the population, displacement of civilians, attacks against protected objects, pillaging, and destruction of property. The crimes were allegedly committed during a 2002-2003 armed conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Ntaganda has denied the charges, stating that his objective in joining the FPLC in 2002 was to pursue a peaceful return of Congolese who had been chased from their homes and “to restore peace without ethnic discrimination.” He also claimed that he always considered discipline the foundation of his military service.
Thomas Lubanga, the commander-in-chief of the FPLC and its political wing, the Union of Congolese Patriots (UPC), was in 2012 found guilty of enlisting and conscripting children under 15 years old and using them actively in armed conflict. He was handed a 14 year prison term, and his appeal to have the sentence reduced was declined last September.
An overview of the evidence heard so far in the Ntaganda trial is available here.