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Katanga, Victim’s Lawyers Appeal Reparations Order

Germain Katanga is appealing the reparations order issued by International Criminal Court (ICC) judges last March. While Ntaganda contests the level of financial compensation ordered by judges and his financial liability, victims’ lawyers are appealing for a larger number of victims to be offered reparations.

On March 24, 2017, judges ordered awards for reparations to 297 victims totaling US$ 1 million comprised of an individual symbolic compensation award of US$ 250 per victim and four collective awards in the form of housing assistance, education assistance, income-generating activities, and psychological rehabilitation. Judges also asked The Trust Fund for Victims to indicate whether it would complement the payment of the awards because Katanga was found indigent.

The Trust Fund for Victims (TFV) board subsequently decided that it has the discretionary authority to consider complementing the payment of an individual award for reparations. As a result, last week the Fund announced that it would provide payment in full for both the collective and the individual awards ordered in the Katanga case. A total of US$74,250 shall be individual symbolic compensation award of US$250 to each of the 297 reparations beneficiaries.

Even as the TFV has committed to fund the reparations awards, Judge Howard Morrison was last Tuesday named as the Presiding Judge for the appeals by Katanga and victims’ legal representatives.

In a notice of appeal filed on April 26, 2017, Katanga’s lawyer David Hooper contends that the trial chamber applied the wrong standard of proof when assessing the harm allegedly suffered by the applicants, and further, that judges gave too broad an interpretation of a parent whose death warrants reparations to the remaining children.

In addition, Hooper faults judges for allocating compensation exceeding several applicants’ claims. Finally, he claims that the trial chamber erred in issuing an order for reparations of US$ 1 million against Katanga because it is not proportionate to, and does not fairly reflect, the part he played in the crimes.

Accordingly, the defense is asking the Appeals Chamber to reverse the reparations order so that victims’ applications for reparation are assessed under a stricter standard of proof; compensation for the loss of a relative be limited to close relatives; the reparation order not exceed the applicants’ claims; and Katanga’s financial liability be reduced.

Meanwhile, victim’s lawyer Paolina Massidda intends to appeal the whole reparations decision regarding the 37 applicants that she represents. She stated in a notice filed on the same day as the defense’s that she would ask appeals judges to reverse or amend the reparations order and grant reparations to all the 37 victims. In the reparations order, only 14 of them were granted reparations, while the applications of 23 victims were rejected.

Another victims’ lawyer, Fidel Nsita Luvengika, has filed a notice of partial appeal, particularly “the part concerning transgenerational harm, insofar as the Chamber holds that there is no causal link between this harm and the attack on Bogoro, owing to a lack of evidence.”

In May 2014, Katanga was sentenced to 12 years in prison after he was found guilty, as an accessory, for a February 2003 attack on civilians in Bogoro village in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) during an ethnic conflict. However, ICC judges reduced this sentence by three years and eight months due to his continuous cooperation with the court and his genuine dissociation from his crimes. With credit for his time served since his arrest in 2007, Katanga was scheduled to be released from ICC custody on January 18, 2016.

Before his release date, the ICC and the Congo government signed an agreement permitting the remainder of Katanga’s sentence to be served in the DRC. He was handed over to the Congolese authorities in December 2015, alongside fellow ICC convict Thomas Lubanga, who is serving a 14-year sentence for enlisting, conscripting, and using child soldiers. Despite the scheduled release date of January last year, Katanga remains in detention in the DRC on separate domestic charges.