Today, the 30th individual to be called by prosecutors to testify against war crimes accused Bosco Ntaganda at the International Criminal Court (ICC) has concluded giving evidence. All of the defense’s cross-examination of the witness was conducted in closed session.
Witness P019 first took the stand last Wednesday and recounted how Union for Congolese Patriots (UPC) troops brutalized members of a rival ethnic group that they considered “not human,” including “savagely” raping women and men. She said the UPC troops her and an unspecified number of other persons hostage at a peace meeting the militiamen had called in Sangi. She said many of the captured women were raped “in a savage way.” Witness P019 also said UPC fighters raped men.
Prior to her appearance, judges granted the witness in-court protective measures to shield her identity from the public to ensure her dignity and safety. Whereas in the July 1 ruling the judges stated that they would assess the necessity of eliciting “certain” undisclosed evidence from the witness in private session “at the relevant time,” the chamber went on to hear most of her testimony in closed session.
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’s Ituri province.
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 last September.
Hearings continue on Monday, July 11, with the testimony of a new prosecution witness.