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Hearings in Ntaganda’s ICC Trial Continue in His Absence

Judges at the International Criminal Court (ICC) have continued to hear the evidence of prosecution witnesses in the trial of Bosco Ntaganda in the absence of the accused. This morning, a witness who goes by the pseudonym Witness P100 concluded giving evidence in the trial. Thereafter, the eighth expert witness to appear for the prosecution took the witness stand.

The evidence of both witnesses was heard with Ntaganda not present in the courtroom following his protest against ongoing restrictions on his communications and family visits. The former Congolese rebel leader’s protest, which began last Wednesday, has seen him go on hunger strike and refuse to grant his lawyers authorization to represent him. Since yesterday, Ntaganda has also refused to appear before judges via video link that was set at the court’s detention center after a medical report showed that he was not fit to be transported to the court’s premises.

Witness P100 started giving testimony in the trial yesterday. The majority of the prosecution’s questioning and defense’s cross-examination of this witness was conducted in closed session. The witness, who was granted protective measures appears to have been a victim of alleged brutality by the Union of Congolese Patriots (UPC) during 2002-2003 in Congo’s Ituri district.

Meanwhile, French pathologist Dr. Laurent Martrille, who started giving evidence in the trial Thursday afternoon, testified about his reports on autopsies of nine corpses exhumed in Ituri. The reports, dated March 2015, which prosecutors tendered into evidence, were produced in conjunction with reports by a team of experts commissioned by prosecutors to exhume and examine bodies of alleged victims of UPC brutality in 2014.

Dr. Martrille is the fifth member of that team to testify in the trial this month. Those who testified before him were Dr. Derek Congram, a Canadian forensic archaeologist and anthropologist, Dr. Arnoud Kal, a forensic scientist, Adrien Sivignon, a crime scene photographer and exhibit manager, and Dr. Lars Uhlin-Hansen.

Ntaganda, the UPC’s former deputy chief of staff, is charged with 18 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity, allegedly committed by himself and his soldiers during ethnic conflict in Congo’s Ituri province. He has pleaded not guilty to all charges against him.

Hearings in the trial continue Friday morning.