Delivery of the sentence for former Congolese rebel commander Bosco Ntaganda has been scheduled for November 7, 2019, according to an order by the International Criminal Court (ICC) chamber that tried him. The sentence will be delivered in open court at 10:00 local time in The Hague.
Last July, Trial Chamber VI convicted Ntaganda for 18 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity, the highest number of convictions ever at the ICC. The chamber is composed of Judge Robert Fremr (Presiding), Judge Kuniko Ozaki, and Judge Chang-ho Chung. Article 76(4) of the court’s Rome Statute, which the judges cited in the sentencing order, stipulates that the sentence shall be pronounced in public and, wherever possible, in the presence of the accused.
Ntaganda was convicted over crimes committed in Ituri province in the Democratic Republic of Congo 17 years ago, while he served as the deputy chief of staff of a militia known as the Patriotic Forces for the Liberation of Congo (FPLC). Thomas Lubanga, who was commander-in-chief of the militia, as well as president of its political arm known as the Union of Congolese Patriots (UPC), was convicted in 2012 for enlisting, conscripting, and actively using children in armed conflict. He is serving a 14-year prison sentence.
The prosecutor has asked judges to give Ntaganda a 30-year prison term while one of the lawyers who represents victims of Ntaganda’s crimes has proposed a life sentence. For its part, the defense has not suggested a sentence; rather, it has said that although Ntaganda was convicted for many crimes of high gravity, the limited level of his participation in the crimes warrants a sentence lower than 30 years in prison.
Moreover, the defense has argued that should the trial chamber consider the possibility of imposing a life sentence on Ntaganda, this would remove discretion from ICC judges to adjudicate and punish crimes that are more serious and of much larger scale.
At a sentencing hearing last month, Ntaganda told judges that it was “very much a shame” that they had not found his testimony to be credible and went on to convict him. He is appealing the conviction, but this cannot stop the sentencing from going ahead.