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Lawyer Quits Ntaganda’s Defense Team Citing ‘Personal Reasons’

Luc Boutin, one of the defense lawyers for Bosco Ntaganda in his International Criminal Court (ICC) trial, has resigned from the case, citing personal reasons. Boutin announced his departure at the end of today’s hearings during which he crossed-examined the 16th prosecution witness.

“Today is the end of my journey before this court. For personal reasons, I have to return to my home country,” said the defense lawyer.

Christopher Gosnell, who has been acting as Associate Counsel on the defense team, will replace Boutin as deputy to the lead defense lawyer Stéphane Bourgon.

Boutin is the second lawyer to step down from representing Ntaganda at the ICC. In July 2014, Marc Desalliers withdrew from the case stating that he and the accused had developed undisclosed “irreconcilable views” on the conduct of the case. Bourgon was appointed as main defense counsel the following month.

Ntaganda’s trial over 13 counts of war crimes and five crimes against humanity opened on September 2, 2015. The former deputy chief of staff of the Forces for the Liberation of Congo (FLPC) is being charged as direct perpetrator, indirect co-perpetrator, and military commander for crimes purportedly committed by himself and by his soldiers against the non-Hema civilian population of Congo’s Ituri district. The crimes were allegedly committed between August 2002 and May 2003.

Since the start of the trial, the defense team has reported numerous challenges, including a shortage of resources that partly led to continued inability to secure field investigators. In February this year, hearings were cancelled due to Bourgon’s poor health and Boutin’s unavailability for reasons not stated in public. Subsequently, defense lawyers took the “exceptional” decision not to cross-examine a former FPLC insider who was testifying at the time.

All of Boutin’s cross-examination of Witness P892 this morning was conducted in closed session. This witness, the second female to testify in Ntaganda’s trial, started giving evidence on Monday this week.

Hearings in the trial are scheduled to continue tomorrow afternoon with further testimony from expert witness Dr. John Charles Yuille, who also gave his initial testimony on Monday this week.