A victim of the crimes Congolese military commander Bosco Ntaganda is accused of has told judges at the at International Criminal Court (ICC) that, as a result of the ongoing trial, she would like to have peace and medical services in her community.
“As a victim of war, what are you expecting in this case at the ICC?” asked Dmytro Suprun, a lawyer representing victims in the trial.
The witness replied, “What I would like to request is that we be provided with assistance in finding peace once again. If we have peace, our children will be able to go to school.” She continued that she wished there was access to medical treatment whenever they needed it. “This is my request.”
Witness P892 stated that she and members of her family have been unable to rebuild their lives since the 2002–2003 ethnic conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo. She said she had not received any assistance or support from Congolese authorities or non-government organizations in the struggle to rebuild her life.
“We lived a life of suffering for a long time. It was only later that the situation improved and we went to work in the fields again in order to grow crops and go to the market. That is when life started to improve again,” she said.
“It was neighbors who helped us and consoled us saying that these were the consequences of the war, but the government didn’t assist us in any way,” she added.
The witness is the second female to give evidence in the Ntaganda trial. She started testifying yesterday and most of her testimony has been heard in closed session court. It remains unclear what suffering she and members of her family underwent. Judges granted her protective measures, including use of a pseudonym and image and voice distortion during public broadcast of the proceedings.
In the brief moments of open court yesterday, Witness P892 recalled fleeing her hometown in the wake of the arrival of the Patriotic Forces for the Liberation of Congo (FPLC) forces. According to the witness, the soldiers who were dressed in “brand new” camouflage military uniforms arrived in the Congolese town of Mongbwalu on November 9, 2002.
She said that upon arriving in Mongbwalu, the soldiers asked her to prepare a meal for them, and she complied. Later that day, the witness fled to Sayo town after members of the Lendu ethnic group asked other residents belonging to that community to flee. They told them if the FPLC soldiers returned to the area and found them, they would “not survive.”
According to the prosecution, the FLPC, which was the armed wing of the Union of Congolese Patriots (UPC), brutalized non-Hema civilians of Congo’s Ituri district, mostly those who were Lendu. Ntaganda, who was the deputy chief of staff of the group, faces 18 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Mongbwalu is one of the areas where prosecutors allege that the militia committed atrocities. Prosecutors also claim Ntaganda personally shot the priest of Mongbwalu parish.
Witness P892 is scheduled to continue testifying tomorrow morning.