On Thursday, the 20th individual to testify against Bosco Ntaganda at the International Criminal Court (ICC) concluded giving evidence in closed session. The cross-examination of Witness P190 by Ntaganda’s lawyer Stéphane Bourgon was conducted almost entirely in closed session.
Witness P190 first took the stand on Monday, June 6. Under questioning by the prosecution, he gave evidence about attacks initiated by Ntaganda against various towns in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). According to the witness, there were numerous casualties during the attacks, including civilians. Some of the attacks were allegedly motivated by financial gain.
The witness also implicated Ntaganda in the abduction of children aged between 11 and 13 years and their conscription into the Patriotic Forces for the Liberation of Congo (FPLC). The children were put through basic training in weapons handling and shooting. If anyone was found attempting to escape, they would be shot, the witness said.
It is not clear if Witness P190 served in the FPLC. However, it appears he had intimate knowledge of the group’s workings and may have had close relations with Ntaganda. Prosecutors have stated that he would provide “direct” evidence about Ntaganda’s role in the militia group as well as his actions and conduct during the 2002-2003 ethnic conflict in Congo’s Ituri province.
Judges granted Witness P190 protective measures including the use of a pseudonym as well as image and voice distortion during public transmission of his testimony, in order to ensure that he gave evidence without fear of his personal safety and security or that of his family. Furthermore, the measures would protect his psychological well-being, dignity, privacy, and avoid the need for intrusive protective measures for the witness and his relatives after completion of testimony.
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 the FPLC. The group was among several militia that were active in the conflict in eastern Congo.
Hearings are scheduled to continue on Monday, June 13.