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Ntaganda Trial: Witness Concludes Testimony in Closed Session

The twelfth individual to testify against Bosco Ntaganda at the International Criminal Court (ICC) on Wednesday afternoon concluded his testimony in closed session. All cross-examination of Witness P800 by defense lawyer Stéphane Bourgon was conducted in closed session.

Under questioning by the prosecution yesterday, Witness P800 recalled “daily attacks” by Union of Congolese Patriots (UPC) soldiers on villages occupied by members of the Lendu ethnic community in Ituri district, eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. However, nearly all of his evidence was head in closed session.

Ntaganda’s trial at the court based in The Hague opened last September. The prosecution is expected to call up to 80 individuals, including experts, insiders who worked with Ntaganda, victims, and eye witnesses to testify about the crimes allegedly committed by the accused and his soldiers against civilians in Ituri.

Ntaganda is charged with 13 counts of war crimes and five counts of crimes against humanity. The crimes were allegedly committed during his tenure as the deputy chief of staff of UPC’s armed wing, which was known as the Patriotic Forces for the Liberation of Congo (FPLC). The group was among several militia that were active in the 2002–2003 armed ethnic conflict in Congo.

The former general in the Congolese national army has denied all 18 charges against him, arguing that he considered discipline the foundation of his military service. “I have never fought civilians…I have always protected them,” Ntaganda said during opening statements in the trial.

Before adjourning today, Presiding Judge Robert Fremr announced that hearings in the trial would resume on Tuesday, February 23, in order to “allow the defense properly prepare for the cross-examination of the upcoming witness.” Over the past weeks, the defense has been faced with challenges in preparing its questioning of prosecution witnesses.

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