International Justice Monitor

A project of the Open Society Justice Initiative

Timeline

September 8, 2000

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) signs the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC).

April 11, 2002

The DRC ratifies the Rome Statute of the ICC.

June 2004

After a referral from Congolese president Joseph Kabila, the ICC opens an investigation into the situation in the DRC.

January 12, 2006

The prosecution applies for its first warrant of arrest against Bosco Ntaganda. The prosecution charged the military leader with war crimes of recruiting and using child soldiers in active combat in 2002 and 2003 in the Ituri district.

August 22, 2006

The ICC issued a sealed arrest warrant for Ntaganda. The arrest warrant remained under seal because, according to the court, “public knowledge of the proceedings in the case might result in Bosco Ntaganda hiding, fleeing, and/or obstructing or endangering the investigations or the proceedings of the court.”

April 28, 2008

The ICC unsealed the arrest warrant for Ntaganda, after determining that “the circumstances that led to the sealing have changed,” that unsealing the arrest warrant would “not endanger the witnesses of the DRC cases” and that it was “the right moment” to make the warrant public.

The unsealed warrant revealed that the chamber found there were reasonable grounds to believe that Ntaganda had de jure and de facto authority over the Patriotic Forces for the Liberation of Congo (FPLC) in its practice of enlisting and conscripting child soldiers and that Ntaganda had taken part directly in attacks in which FPLC soldiers under the age of 15 actively participated.

January 2009

Backed by Rwanda, Ntaganda overthrows Laurent Nkunda and takes over leadership of the National Congress for the Defense of the People (CNDP), an armed militia group.

March 23, 2009

The CNDP and the Congolese government sign a peace agreement, which, in part, facilitates Ntaganda’s integration into the Congolese army.

April 4, 2012

Citing poor conditions in the army and the Congolese government’s unwillingness to implement the March 23, 2009 peace deal, Ntaganda and a group of Congolese soldiers mutiny to form M23. International human rights groups allege that M23 is responsible for widespread war crimes, including summary executions, rapes, and the forced recruitment of children.

March 14, 2012

Thomas Lubanga, the first person to be tried by the ICC, is found guilty of enlisting and conscripting children under the age of 15 years into the FPLC and using them actively in armed conflict. He is sentenced to 14 years imprisonment.

May 14, 2012

The prosecution requests a second arrest warrant for Ntaganda for additional crimes committed in the Ituri region.

July 13, 2012

The ICC issues its second arrest warrant for Ntaganda. The expanded charges include the crimes against humanity of murder; persecution based on ethnic grounds; and rape and sexual slavery. The additional war crimes include intentional attacks against civilians; murder; rape and sexual slavery; and pillaging. The charges all relate to crimes alleged to have taken place in the Ituri region between 2002 and 2003.

March 18, 2013

Ntaganda surrenders himself at the U.S. embassy in Kigali, Rwanda and asks to be transferred to the ICC in The Hague. Ntaganda’s surrender to the court on March 22 was the first time an accused voluntarily submitted himself to the ICC.

March 26, 2013

Ntaganda appears for the first time before an ICC judge who schedules the confirmation of charges hearing for September 23, 2013.

June 17, 2013

Pre-Trial Chamber II postpones the confirmation of charges hearing to February 10, 2014, after the prosecution requested additional time to ensure the protection of witnesses and effective disclosure of evidence to the defense. Acknowledging that the case had been dormant for several years, the single judge acting for the chamber noted, “Where the suspect is evading justice for many years, it is neither possible nor reasonable to impose on the Prosecutor a permanent stand-by availability of the teams for years.”

February 10-14, 2014

Ntaganda appears for his confirmation of charges hearing at the ICC. During the five-day hearing, the Office of the Prosecutor and the defense presented evidence to Pre-Trial Chamber II.

June 9, 2014

The Pre-Trial Chamber II of the ICC unanimously confirms 18 charges against Ntaganda for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

July 16, 2014

ICC pre-trial chamber Judge Ekaterina Trendafilova authorizes lead defense lawyer, Marc Desalliers, to step down from the case. On July 14, 2014, Desalliers applied to withdraw, citing irreconcilable views with Ntaganda on the conduct of his defense.

August 15, 2014

Stéphane Bourgon is appointed as the new lead defense counsel representing Ntaganda.

October 9, 2014

Trial Chamber VI sets the start date for the trial of Ntaganda as June 2, 2015.

March 19, 2015

Trial Chamber VI recommends to the ICC Presidency that opening statements of the trial be held in situ in Bunia, DRC. The recommendation was in the interest of the court bringing its judicial work closer to those most affected by the crimes Ntaganda is charged with.

April 22, 2015

Trial Chamber VI judges postpone the trial opening to July 2015 to allow for additional time for the ICC Registry to prepare for the possibility of holding opening statements in Bunia.

June 15, 2015

The ICC Presidency declines the trial chamber’s recommendation to hold opening statements of the trial in Bunia, DRC. Among the reasons cited by the Presidency for not holding the trial in situ are the security in Bunia, the safety of witnesses and victims, and high costs.

September 2, 2015

The trial of Bosco Ntaganda commenced at the seat of the court in The Hague.