at the International Criminal Court
Bosco Ntaganda is a former militia leader in the Democratic Republic of Congo, who was subject of two International Criminal Court arrest warrants before he turned himself in to authorities. Ntaganda is facing 18 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity allegedly committed in eastern DRC between 2002 and 2003.
Name: Bosco Ntaganda
Arrested: On March 18, 2013, Bosco Ntaganda voluntarily showed up at the United States embassy in Kigali, Rwanda and asked to be transferred to the ICC in The Hague. Ntaganda had two outstanding arrest warrants, the first issued in 2006 and the second in 2012.
Taken into ICC Custody: March 22, 2013
Charges: Thirteen counts of war crimes (murder and attempted murder; attacking civilians; rape; sexual slavery of civilians; pillaging; displacement of civilians; attacking protected objects; destroying the enemy’s property; rape and sexual slavery of child soldiers; and enlisting and conscripting child soldiers under the age of fifteen years and using them to participate actively in hostilities) and five counts of crimes against humanity (murder and attempted murder; rape; sexual slavery; persecution; and forcible transfer of population) allegedly committed in the Ituri district between 2002 and 2003.
Trial Start Date: September 2, 2015
Bosco Ntaganda is the former alleged Deputy Chief of the General Staff of the Patriotic Forces for the Liberation of Congo (FPLC), the armed wing of the Union of Congolese Patriots (UPC). Known as “the Terminator” or “Warrior” among his troops for his tendency to lead from the front and directly participate in the military operations, Ntaganda served in a number of rebel groups throughout eastern Congo for over a decade. In addition to his alleged leadership of the FPLC, Ntaganda held an instrumental position in the National Congress for the Defense of the People (CNDP). After a 2009 peace agreement between the Congolese government and the CNDP, Ntaganda served as a general in the Congolese army until 2012. In April 2012, Ntaganda and a group of Congolese soldiers mutinied to form the M23, a rebel group alleged to have committed horrific human rights violations, including summary executions, mass rape, and forced recruitment of child soldiers.
The following offers an overview of how the case at the ICC came about.
How did the ICC become involved in the DRC?
The Democratic Republic of the Congo became a state party to the founding treaty of the International Criminal Court, the Rome Statute, when it signed the treaty on September 8, 2000 and ratified it on April 11, 2002. This gave the ICC jurisdiction over war crimes, crimes of humanity, and genocide committed on Congolese territory or by Congolese citizens after July 1, 2002 – the date that the Rome Statute entered into force. However, the ICC only has jurisdiction in cases where the government proves unwilling or unable to investigate and prosecute those crimes. Thus, the ICC investigation into crimes committed in the DRC began only after the Congolese government formally referred the situation in the country to the ICC on April 19, 2004.
The ICC prosecutor initially chose to focus his investigation on the situation in Ituri due to the gravity of the crimes committed during the Ituri conflict. In 2008, the ICC prosecutor expanded investigations into North and South Kivu provinces in eastern DRC, which led to arrest warrants against two rebel leaders, Callixte Mbarushimana and Sylvestre Mudacumura. However, the ICC judges declined to confirm charges against Mbarushimana, and Mudacumura remains at large.
How did the prosecutor investigate and arrest Ntaganda?
The ICC Prosecutor’s investigation into the situation in the Ituri Province of eastern DRC officially began in June 2004. The investigation uncovered sufficient evidence to suggest that during the Ituri conflict the FPLC carried out repeated acts of enlistment, conscription, and use of children under the age of fifteen who were trained to participate in armed conflict. On August 22, 2006, Pre-Trial Chamber I at the ICC issued an arrest warrant alleging that there are reasonable grounds to believe that as the Deputy Chief of General Staff for Military Operations, Ntaganda used his authority within the FPLC to actively implement the policy of enlisting, conscripting, and using children under the age of fifteen to participate actively in hostilities.
On March 15, 2012, the situation in the DRC was reassigned to Pre-Trial Chamber II at the ICC. After receiving an application from the prosecution, the court issued a second, broader arrest warrant against Ntaganda on July 13, 2012. Based on materials provided by the prosecution, judges found reasonable grounds to believe that during the conflict in Ituri from September 2002 to September 2003, crimes against humanity and war crimes were committed. The warrant of arrest also stated that there were reasonable grounds to believe that Ntaganda, as a leader in the FPLC, is responsible as an indirect co-perpetrator for the crimes against humanity of murder, rape and sexual slavery, and persecution as well as the war crimes of murder, rape and sexual slavery, pillaging, and attacks against the civilian population.
On March 18, 2013, Ntaganda surrendered himself at the U.S. embassy in Kigali, Rwanda and asked to be transferred to the ICC in The Hague. Ntaganda’s surrender to the court was the first time an accused facing an active arrest warrant voluntarily submitted himself to the ICC.
Why were restrictions imposed on Ntaganda’s communications?
In August 2015, judges imposed restrictions on Ntaganda’s visits and communications, after finding that there were reasonable grounds to believe that he personally engaged in witness interference and coaching and also directed his associates to do so. According to these restrictions, Ntaganda’s telephone communications were permitted with only two individuals (a third contact was later added). The calls were actively monitored and limited in duration, language, and subject matter, with the use of coded language or discussion of case-related matters prohibited.
Ntaganda was permitted one hour of phone conversation per week, which judges later revised to three hours per week. The second set of restrictions were placed on Ntaganda’s visits, which were actively monitored. Conversations had to be in a language that could be monitored by the court’s Registry and could not involve any case-related discussions. Ntaganda was permitted to speak to his children through his wife, and he could record messages to be played to the seven children after review of their content by the Registry. On September 7, 2016, judges maintained the restrictions, stating that their continuation was necessary to ensure the safety of witnesses, prevent breaches of confidentiality, and ensure the integrity of proceedings. In response, Ntaganda went on a 14-day hunger strike and boycott of proceedings.
In February 2018, judges lifted all the restrictions, which had been in place for two and a half years. They determined that since the evidentiary phase of the case was coming to a close, it was no longer necessary to maintain these restrictions. The judges determined that, without further evidence of misconduct, maintaining any restrictions on Ntaganda’s communications would “unduly impinge upon his fundamental right to respect for private and family life, and thus be disproportionate to any residual need to maintain them at this stage of proceedings.” Accordingly, they lifted all restrictions to his telephone communications and visits.
Why did Ntaganda contest the charges over the rape of child soldiers?
Ntaganda contested the jurisdiction of the ICC to try him over the alleged war crimes of rape and sexual slavery of child soldiers in the Union of Congolese Patriots (UPC) by fighters from the same militia group. His lawyers argued in various submissions that under Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions of 1949, war crimes may not be committed by members of an armed force against members of the same armed force. According to them, the victim of a war crime in a non-international armed conflict must be a protected person within the meaning of Article 3, meaning a person “taking no active part in the hostilities.” Article 82(1)(a) of the court’s founding law, the Rome Statute, permits a party to a case to appeal a decision with respect to court’s jurisdiction. For its part, the prosecution argued that Ntaganda, as the UPC’s former deputy chief of staff, is criminally responsible for the rape and sexual enslavement of child soldiers in the militia group by its commanders and soldiers, and that the ICC had jurisdiction over those crimes.
Trial Chamber VI judges Robert Fremr (presiding), Kuniko Ozaki, and Chang-ho Chung dismissed the defense submissions, stating that the court’s statutory framework does not require victims of these crimes to be protected persons. According to the judges, limiting the scope of protection in the manner proposed by the defense “was contrary to the rationale of international humanitarian law, which aims to mitigate the suffering resulting from armed conflict.” Furthermore, judges determined that members of the same armed force are not excluded as potential victims of the war crimes of rape and sexual slavery, whether as a result of the way these crimes have been incorporated in the Rome Statute, or on the basis of the framework of international humanitarian law.
Appeals Chamber has affirmed the ruling of the trial chamber, noting that Article 8(2)(b)(xxii) and (2)(e)(vi) of the Rome Statute does not expressly provide that the victims of rape or sexual slavery must be “protected persons” in terms of the Geneva Conventions or “persons taking no active part in the hostilities.” That meant that members of an armed group are not categorically excluded from protection against the war crimes of rape and sexual slavery when committed by members of the same armed group.
Why wasn’t part of the trial conducted from Bunia, DRC?
The trial is being held at the seat of the court in The Hague, the Netherlands. On March 13, 2015 Trial Chamber VI recommended to the court’s Presidency that opening statements in the trial be held in situ in Bunia, DRC. In principle, all parties (the prosecution, defense, and legal representatives of the victims) agreed that holding part of the trial closer to the location of the crimes and the victim community would be in the interest of justice.
However, further submissions by the prosecution and legal representatives of the victims raised serious security concerns in the region generally and to witnesses and victims specifically. After considering these factors, as well as the high cost of conducting opening statements in Bunia, the Presidency concluded that the benefits to holding part of the trial in situ are outweighed by the risks. The judges had determined that conducting the opening in Bunia would cost the court more than €600,000 (US$ 677,121), which could rise “unexpectedly,” and yet, given the length and nature of opening statements, the affected communities would have limited access to the proceedings.
In March 2018, judges also abandoned the idea of hearing the closing arguments in the trial from Bunia, due to the renewed fighting in Ituri that had resulted in the death of up to 150 individuals and the displacement of an estimated 60,000 area residents. The defense had supported the idea of holding the closing arguments in Bunia.
Who is paying for Ntaganda’s defense?
Under the Rome Statute, a defendant has the right to legal counsel during criminal proceedings. As is the case with Ntaganda, if a defendant claims he is indigent and cannot pay for legal representation, the court will provide legal aid during the pre-trial phase. However, the decision to provide financial assistance can be reversed at any time if an investigation conducted by the court registrar reveals that the defendant can bear the cost of his counsel.
During pre-trial proceedings, Ntaganda’s lead counsel was Marc Desalliers, a well-known international criminal lawyer who was also part of Thomas Lubanga’s defense team. However, in July 2014, Desalliers withdrew from Ntaganda’s defense, citing “irreconcilable views” with Ntaganda on the conduct of his defense. He did not elaborate on the differences. In August 2014, Stéphane Bourgon took over as Ntaganda’s lead defense counsel.
What is the background to the conflict in Ituri?
Often described as the DRC’s bloodiest corner, Ituri has long been the site of ethnic disputes between the Hema and the Lendu communities. The fighting initially stemmed from localized land conflicts between the two ethnic groups, dating back to the Belgian rule over Congo in the late-nineteenth century and intensifying in 1994 when the disputes became intertwined with the Hutu-led genocide of Tutsis in neighboring Rwanda.
In neighboring Zaire (now the DRC), President Mobutu Sese Seko’s three-decade dictatorship resulted in the gradual erosion of all state institutions and widespread discontent throughout the country. In 1996, the Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo (AFDL), an armed rebel group, largely backed by Rwanda and Uganda, took control of Zaire and changed the country’s name to the Democratic Republic of Congo. In 1997, Laurent Kabila, AFDL’s leader, declared himself president.
Once in power, Kabila quickly turned on his former allies. Feeling increasingly threatened, Rwanda and Uganda aligned to engender a new rebel movement led by Congolese Tutsis, known as Banyamulenge. Kabila enjoyed increasing support from Zimbabwe, Angola, Burundi, and anti-Tutsi Congolese militias, Mai-Mai. Violent clashes between the two sides broke out between 1998 and 2002, becoming popularized throughout international media as “Africa’s first world war.”
The region’s rich natural resources largely fueled the conflicts and the international involvement therein. Driven by a desire to gain control of the region’s gold, diamonds, and timber resources, direct clashes between Ugandan and Rwandan militaries frequently occurred throughout Ituri and the larger region. As the conflict intensified, the Lendu began to identify with the Hutu, and the Hema with the Tutsi, exacerbating the longstanding conflict between the Lendu and Hema ethnic groups.
Despite UN involvement and the warring sides signing the Sun City peace agreement in April 2002, the fighting intensified, with the renewed attacks reinforcing the conflict’s underlying ethnic character. In August 2002, the UPC militia, together with the Ugandan army, launched an offensive to control Bunia, the main town in Ituri, deliberately killing Lendu, Nande, and Bira civilians throughout the attack. From August 2002 to March 2003, the UPC controlled Bunia, forming a Hema-controlled government under Thomas Lubanga, the leader of the UPC. After establishing its hold over Bunia, the UPC moved south to attack Songolo, killing approximately 100 citizens. In November 2002, the UPC attacked the gold mining town of Mongbwalu, where UPC combatants targeted and killed an estimated 200 Lendu civilians. Following the Mongbwalu offensive, UPC forces attacked Kilo, where they forced civilians presumed to be Lendu to dig their own graves before killing them. Described as an “army of children,” the UPC forcibly recruited children as young as seven, including girls, for military service.
In June 2003, a French-led European Union peacekeeping force intervened to halt the fighting. In September 2003, the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUC) assumed peacekeeping responsibilities in Ituri.
The 1998-2003 war destroyed the institutional means to resolve these tensions peacefully. The conflicts dislocated many communities and resulted in a collapsed justice system, limiting the potential of traditional conflict-resolution mechanisms. The absence of the rule of law perpetuated the overall culture of impunity.
The ICC opened its investigation into the Congo in 2004 after a referral from President Joseph Kabila. Besides Ntaganda, the ICC issued arrest warrants against three rebel leaders in relation to crimes committed in the Ituri region: Thomas Lubanga of the UPC, Mathieu Ngudjolo of the Nationalist and Integrationist Front (FNI), and Germain Katanga of the Patriotic Resistance Front in Ituri (FRPI). In March 2012, the ICC convicted Lubanga of conscripting, enlisting, and using child soldiers during the Ituri conflict between 2002 and 2003. The ICC acquitted Ngudjolo in December 2012. In March 2014, the ICC found Katanga guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity stemming from a February 2003 attack on civilians in Ituri. The Lubanga and Ngudjolo judgments were both upheld upon appeal.
Bosco Ntaganda: a rebel leader who has been active in numerous armed groups in eastern Congo for the past two decades. From 2002 to 2005, Ntaganda served under Thomas Lubanga as chief of military operations for the Union of Congolese Patriots (UPC).
Judges of Trial Chamber VI
- Judge Robert Fremr (Presiding)
- Judge Kuniko Ozaki
- Judge Chang-ho Chung
The Defense for Bosco Ntaganda
- Stéphane Bourgon
- Luc Boutin
Legal Representatives of the Victims
- Sarah Pellet
- Dmytro Suprun
- Peter Lewis, Registrar
Key Groups and Organizations
- The Hema: The ethnic group whose interests were purportedly represented by the Rwandan-backed UPC armed group, where Ntaganda served as chief of military operations under Thomas Lubanga.
- The Lendu: The ethnic group whose interests were purportedly represented by both the FRPI and FNI militias. Both groups received support from the Ugandan government.
Ituri-based Armed Groups
- APC: Congolese Popular Army (Armeé Populaire Congolaise), the armed wing of the Congolese Rally for Democracy-Kisangani (Rassemblement Congolais pour la Democratie-Kisangani/Mouvement de Liberation).
- FAPC: The People’s Armed Forces of Congo (Forces Armées Populaire du Congo), an armed group comprising a mix of ethnic groups.
- FPDC: The Popular Force for Democracy in Congo (Force Populaire pour la Démocratie du Congo), an armed group comprised of ethnic Alur and Lugbara.
- FNI: The Nationalist and Integrationist Front (Front des nationalistes et intégrationnistes), an ethnic Lendu armed group closely linked to the FPRI that reportedly received support from Uganda in its operations against the Rwandan-backed, ethnic Hema UPC. Its alleged leader, Mathieu Ngudjolo Chui, was acquitted of ICC charges in December 2012.
- FPLC: The Patriotic Forces for the Liberation of the Congo (Forces Patriotiques pour la libération du Congo), the armed wing of the UPC.
- FPRI: The Ituri Patriotic Resistance Force (Force de résistance patriotique en Ituri), an armed group closely linked to the FNI and comprised of ethnic Ngiti, a sub-group of the Lendu. It also received support from Uganda in its operations against the Rwandan-backed, ethnic Hema UPC. The ICC convicted FPRI general, Germain Katanga in May 2014.
- PUSIC: Party for Unity and Safeguarding the Integrity of Congo, a Hema breakaway group from the UPC.
- RCD: Rally for Congolese Democracy, an armed group formed with the backing of the Rwandan and Ugandan governments in order to depose Laurent Désiré-Kabila. The RCD splintered into various armed groups, including the RCD-Goma, RCD-Kisangani, the RCD-Movement for Liberation, and the RCD-National.
- RPA: Rwandan Patriotic Army, the Rwanda government army (since then renamed Rwanda Defence Forces, RDF), which deployed in Congo. Ntaganda fought with the RPA when it was a Uganda-backed rebel group before it captured power in Rwanda in 1994.
- UPC: Union of Congolese Patriots (Union des Patriotes Congolais), a predominantly Hema/Gegere armed group led by Lubanga and Ntaganda.
- FARDC: The national Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
- Joseph Kabila: Current president of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the son of Laurent Kabila.
- Laurent Kabila: Former President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and father of Joseph Kabila. Laurent was assassinated in 2001.
- UPDF: Ugandan People’s Defense Force, Uganda’s national army. The UPDF backed a number of armed groups to further the Ugandan government’s strategic interests, ultimately aggravating the conflict in eastern DRC.
- MONUC: The United Nations Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, present in the region from 2000 to 2010. It was originally created to oversee the implementation of the July 1999 ceasefire agreement between DRC and neighboring countries. In July 2010, MONUC was renamed the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) and given an expanded mandate to protect civilians, humanitarian personnel, and human rights defenders under imminent threat of physical violence and to support the Government of the DRC in its stabilization and peace consolidation effort.
Key Individuals Referred to in the Trial
- Floribert Kisembo Bahemuka: The Chief of Staff of the FPLC whom Ntaganda deputized. He joined the national army, FARDC, in 2005 but was later killed by government forces in 2011 as he reportedly organized a rebellion. He was never indicted by the ICC.
- Thomas Lubanga: The president of the Union of Congolese Patriots (UPC) and commander-in-chief of the FPLC. Lubanga is serving a 14-year jail term at the International Criminal Court over the recruitment, enlistment, and use of children under the age of 15 years in armed conflict.
- Kahwa Panga Mandro: A local Hema chief who was a senior UPC member and commander of the Mandro camp where prosecutors say child soldiers were trained. He broke away to found the Party for Unity and Safeguarding of the Integrity of Congo (PUSIC).
- John Tinanzabo: Former general secretary of the UPC and its interim president. He is also a member of parliament in the DRC.
- Salumu Mulenda: A senior FPLC commander who allegedly urged the group’s soldiers to fight and pillage everything, including women. He also allegedly ordered execution of civilians.
- Commander Simba: A senior UPC/FPLC officer who is alleged to have personally killed several civilians rounded up by his fighters and to have raped Lendu women.
Geographical Terms That Could be Referred to in the Trial
- Kinshasa: The capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, located on its western border.
- Ituri: A district in the Orientale Province in northeastern DRC that was made an independent province in 1999. It is bordered by Uganda to the east and Sudan to the north. Ituri is composed of five territories sub-divided into collectivités, which are in turn divided into groupements and villages.
- Bunia: A city in Ituri that served as FPLC headquarters.
- Mandro, Rwampara, and Bule: Locations of the UPC training camps.
- Bunia, Tchomia, Kasenyi, and Bogoro: Locations where children were deployed to take part in in fighting.
- Banyali-Kilo, Walendu-Djatsi, and Jitchu Forest: Locations where militia commanded by Ntaganda allegedly pillaged and killed hundreds of civilians
- Mongbwalu, Kilo, Sayo, Pluto, Nzebi, Lipri, Kobu, Bambu, Sangi and Buli: Areas where militia commanded by Ntaganda reportedly committed crimes including rape, sexual slavery, and murder. Prosecutors claim Ntaganda personally shot the priest of Mongbwalu parish.
Witnesses for the Prosecution
- Witness P0805: This crime-based witness was the first to take the stand in Ntaganda’s trial. He recounted how UPC fighters convened a peace meeting with members of a rival ethnic group, the Lendu, near Mongbwalu town but arrested and later shot dead those who turned up. He testified with protective measures and gave a large part of his testimony in closed session.
- Witness P901: A former insider in the UPC, he testified about the ethnic mix of the group’s fighters, which he said excluded the Lendu community. He said there were attacks and counter-attacks by various ethnic militia groups. A part of his evidence was given in closed session.
- Roberto Garreton: A former Special Rapporteur for the United Nations Commission for Human Rights on human rights in the DRC, gave evidence on ethnic fighting in Ituri and other contextual issues relevant to the conflict. He was questioned for only one hour and then judges accepted into evidence the testimony that he previously gave in the trial of Thomas Lubanga.
- Witness P768: A former officer of the UPC, he provided most of his evidence in closed session and under the protective measures of a pseudonym with face and voice distortion.
- Witness P886: A crime-based witness, who said a Lendu militia conducted pillaging and brutalized civilians in Sayo town after UPC fighters left the area. Judges rejected a request to shield his face from public view after determining that such a measure was unnecessary. Judges also declined to distort the voice of the witness during his testimony, but they granted him the use of a pseudonym.
- Witness P039: Was called by prosecutors in October 2015 but declined to testify after he was informed that judges had granted him the use of a pseudonym but not distortion of his voice and image during public broadcasts of his testimony. His prior recorded testimony was provisionally admitted into evidence in January 2017.
- Witness P106: Crime-based witness, who testified that UPC troops shot dead his father, “decapitated” his wife and children, and killed numerous other civilians.
- Witness P010: She testified about her life as a child soldier in the UPC, Ntaganda’s role in committing atrocities, and the rape of child soldiers—including herself—by militia commanders. Defense lawyers said they would seek to impeach this witness.
- Witness P859: A crime-based witness, he recounted how Ntaganda ordered the execution of a UPC soldier who had shot dead a civilian in Mongbwalu town in 2002. The dead man was a brother to the witness. Testifying with full protective measures, the witness also said UPC fighters arrested a Catholic priest from Mongbwalu parish and killed him at their camp at the Kilo Moto buildings.
- Witness P790: A crime-based witness who testified with full protective measures, he recounted how he counted the bodies of 57 civilians, including children and women, who were killed by UPC soldiers in Kobu.
- Witness P017: A former member of the UPC militia, he testified that his colleagues executed about 20 women and children shortly after the fighters had killed an unnamed number of men. He also said that in the UPC there was a unit made up of kadogos, or young soldiers, all under 15 years.
- Witness P290: A former insider in UPC who testified with full protective measures and assurances from judges against self-incrimination during his evidence. He spoke about the presence of child soldiers in Ntaganda’s personal escort. Defense lawyers were unable to cross-examine this witness, arguing that they had not conducted sufficient investigations for their questioning of the former UPC insider.
- Witness P800: A crime-based witness, he testified with full protective measures and recalled daily attacks by the UPC fighters on Congolese villages occupied by the Lendu ethnic community. He said the besieged localities included Sayo, Kobu, Mongbwalu, and surrounding villages in Ituri.
- Witness P055: Testified with full protective measures and all of his evidence was heard in closed session.
- Witness P815: Testified that UPC soldiers looted from civilians and also pillaged “everything” from the health center in the town of Sayo. He said the UPC was made up of soldiers from the Hema ethnic group, and their hostilities were targeted at members of other groups, particularly the Lendu.
- Witness P963: A former member of the UPC militia, he testified that his fellow militiamen executed more than 40 civilians a day after they took them prisoner. He said the UPC fighters raped the female prisoners before killing them.
- Witness P892: A crime-based witness and the second female to testify against Ntaganda, she testified that she and her family had lived a life of suffering for a long time after falling victims to crimes committed by UPC fighters. Most of her evidence was heard in sessions closed to the public and she testified with full protective measures.
- Dr. John Yuille: A Canadian forensic psychologist who offered expert testimony on variations in post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and the factors that affect memory patterns among individuals who face trauma.
- Witness P907: An insider witness, he stated that commanders in the UPC provided guns to civilians and encouraged them to pillage towns that were predominantly populated by rival ethnic groups. He said whereas some civilians went on to loot and commit murders, they were not reprimanded by UPC commanders.
- Witness P887: The third female to testify at the trial, she was mostly questioned in closed session. She had full protective measures.
- Witness P190: An insider witness who recounted combat operations by troops led by Ntaganda in various towns. He said Ntaganda grabbed children from a boy’s primary school in the Muzipela neighborhood and conscripted them into his militia group. The witness, who had full protective measures, said he witnessed this event.
- Kristine Peduto: A former demobilization officer with the United Nations Mission in Congo (MONUC) during 2002-2005, she spoke of demobilization efforts by UPC, and the presence of child soldiers in UPC and other militia groups.
- Witness P894: This crime-based witness gave all his evidence in closed session. His prior recorded statement, along with two sketches made by him, were entered into the case evidence record in their “entirety.”
- Witness P888: A former UPC insider, he claimed Ntaganda ordered recruits to “go from house to house, and if you find enemies, kill them.” This witness first testified on June 20, 2016, then judges recalled him on June 24 for further questioning, apparently on his school enrollment records.
- Anneke Van Woudenberg: The Deputy Director of the Africa Division of Human Rights Watch (HRW) testified briefly in the trial, and her reports, which included accounts of victims of sexual violence perpetuated by all armed groups in Ituri – including the UPC, were admitted into evidence.
- Witness P877: A crime-based witness questioned almost entirely in closed session, including about crimes committed around Mongbwalu airport, Kilo town center, and Kobu. He testified with full protective measures.
- Witness P018: All of the evidence by this witness was heard in closed session. In addition to the use of a pseudonym and image and voice distortion, prosecutors described this witness as vulnerable and requiring regular breaks during her testimony. The witness was assisted in the courtroom by an official from the Victims and Witnesses Section.
- Witness P850: A crime-based witness, he testified about the origins of the conflict between the Lendu and Hema ethnic groups, said Lendu combatants killed Hema civilians who stayed in Mongbwalu town after it fell under their control, and recounted other crimes committed by a Lendu militia group.
- Maeve Lewis: An Irish expert in psychotherapy, she assessed four individuals who were reportedly raped by UPC troops in 2002 and 2003, and testified about the psychological harm suffered by the four individuals, who are prosecution witnesses.
- Witness P019: A crime-based witness who was taken hostage by UPC fighters, she testified how the group’s members brutalized members of a rival ethnic group that they considered “not human,” including “savagely” raping women and men. She testified with full protective measures.
- Witness P113: Was abducted and held in captivity by UPC fighters. She said UPC troops pillaged, torched houses, and kidnapped civilians.
- Witness P769: This witness served in the UPC and stated that some children served as military instructors at the group’s training camps.
- Dr. Derek Congram: A Canadian forensic archaeologist and anthropologist who testified about excavation and exhumation at sites where local residents said victims of mass murders by the UPC were buried.
- Dr. Arnoud Kal: A forensic scientist who provided expert testimony about the excavations and exhumations in Ituri.
- Adrien Sivignon: A crime scene photographer and exhibit manager who testified about the excavations and exhumations in Ituri.
- Dr. Lars Uhlin-Hansen: The Norwegian forensic pathologist testified about the autopsies conducted on 13 human remains in Ituri.
- Witness P100: A crime-based witness who gave nearly all his testimony in closed session, with full protective measures.
- Dr. Laurent Martrille: The French pathologist testified about his reports on autopsies of nine corpses exhumed in Ituri.
- Witness P105: A crime-based witness who gave nearly all his testimony in closed session, with full protective measures.
- Witness P014: Testified with full protective measures and mostly in closed session. He appears to have been a member of the UPC due to his knowledge of the group’s inner workings. He spoke about the ill-treatment of child soldiers in the group.
- Witness P127: Testified with full protective measures with much of his evidence heard in closed session.
- Dr. Sophie Gromb Monnoyeur: A professor of forensic medicine who heads a university hospital in France, she testified about her findings regarding the physical effects of trauma with respect to four prosecution witnesses (P018, P019, P108, and P113).
- Witness P668: Due to reasons not made public, this witness did not show up to testify at the time he was expected to take the stand in late September 2016.
- Witness P030: A former insider in UPC, he testified with full protective measures and stated that Ntaganda had bodyguards who were 12 to 14 years old.
- Witness P365: Gave the substance of her evidence in closed session. She testified with full protective measures.
- Witness P912: A crime-based witness, she testified mostly in closed session, so it was not clear what the focus of her evidence was. It was apparent, however, that she resided in Mongbwalu town during 2002. She testified with full protective measures.
- Witness P301: A crime-based witness who recounted the slaughter in August 2003 of an estimated 30 to 50 civilians in Kobu by UPC fighters. He testified with full protective measures.
- Witness P792: A crime-based witness who testified with full protective measures about UPC attacks on Mongbwalu in November 2002.
- Witness 976: Testified about sexual relations between commanders and female recruits in the UPC. It appears this individual served in the UPC. He testified with full protective measures.
- Witness 868: Evidence by this witness in November 2016 was heard in closed session. The witness had full protective measures. He reappeared before judged in December 2016, again with the hearing closed to the public.
- Witness 918: Evidence by this witness was heard in closed session. She had full protective measures.
- Witness 911: This insider witness testified in closed session, with full protective measures.
- Witness 758: This female, crime-based witness testified in closed session, with full protective measures.
- Witness P761: This witness testified in closed session, with full protective measures.
- Witness P012: A former insider, his prior recorded testimony was submitted into evidence after brief in-court questioning. The witness was granted full protective measures.
- Witness P300: This witness testified in closed session, with full protective measures.
- Witness 883: This witness gave all her testimony in closed session, with full protective measures.
- Witness P002: This witness who gave all his testimony in closed session, with full protective measures.
- Witness P121: This witness testified in closed session, with full protective measures.
- Witness P031: This witness testified in closed session, with full protective measures.
- Lars Bromley: An expert witness, he testified about his analysis of satellite images of locations in Congo where rebels allegedly destroyed houses.
- Lynn Lawry: An epidemiologist, her expert testimony centered around sexual violence committed in Ituri district during 2000-2005.
- Witness P863: Testified about UPC attacks against towns in eastern Congo, including, Mongbwalu, Bambu, Beni, Buli and Kobu. The witness was granted full protective measures.
- Witness P773: Appeared via video link and all of her testimony was heard in closed session.
- Witness P005: Appeared via video link and all of his testimony was heard in closed session.
- Witness P108: Appeared via video link and all of his testimony was heard in closed session.
- Jacques Kabasele: A former judge in the Cour de Grande Instance in Bunia, Kabasele – also known in court as Witness P043 – briefly testified about his arrest and imprisonment by UPC forces in November 2002. Judges admitted the statement he made to Thomas Lubanga prosecutors in 2005, into the Ntaganda case record.
- Sonia Bakar: The former head of the investigations unit of the human rights section of the UN Mission in Congo (MONUC) testified about investigations into human rights violations in Ituri district during 2002-2003. She recounted how investigations by her team found widespread reports of crimes committed by members of the UPC. The investigation reports that Bakar and her team produced in June 2003, as well as raw data used to prepare the reports, were tendered into evidence by the prosecution.
- Witness P857: This witness gave all his testimony in closed session, with full protective measures.
- Witness P116: Appeared via video link and all of his testimony was heard in closed session.
- Désiré Dudunyabo Tandana: Also known as Witness P551, this individual was the last prosecution witness to testify in Ntaganda’s trial. Appearing via video link from an undisclosed location, the former inspector of schools in the eastern Congo town of Bunia was questioned about records that showed the age of former pupils in various schools.
- Victim a/01635/13: Female victim of UPC brutality who presented her views and concerns via video link.
- Victim a/30169/15: This victim fled his village with his children following a UPC attack in March 2003. He presented his views and concerns to judges via video link.
- Victim a/30286/15: Recounted that she was raped by three UPC soldiers when she was 13 years old.
- Victim a/20018/14: Testified that she was raped by two UPC soldiers in the presence of her children aged 10, eight, and six years.
- Victim a/20126/14: This victim testified how UPC soldiers attacked his village of Nyangara, destroyed several houses, murdered his relatives, and stabbed him with a bayonet.
- Witness V1: A victim of alleged torture by UPC soldiers, he testified that the militia men killed six members of his family including his wife, burned his three houses to the ground and stole his livestock and other household property. Appearing before judges via video link, Witness V1, also known as Victim a/00256/13, stated that his ordeal at the hands of the UPC started with his arrest and imprisonment at the end of 2002.
- Witness V2: This was the second victim to appear before judges. She testified that she was raped and her husband was killed by UPC militiamen.
- Witness V3: This victim testified that Ntaganda purportedly led a group of soldiers who arrested and killed his father for refusal to form an alliance with the UPC.
Witnesses for the Defense
- Olivier Maki Dhekana: The first individual to testify for Ntaganda at the ICC. He recounted how UPC commanders turned him away when he volunteered to join the militia because they deemed him to be underage.
- Bosco Ntaganda: As the second witness called by defense lawyers, Ntaganda testified in his own defense for over six weeks. He recounted how his role in fighting injustice and discrimination during the Rwandan genocide drove him to fight against dictatorship in the Democratic Republic of Congo. He stated that discipline was strictly enforced within the militia; and that ethnic discrimination and sexual relations were forbidden. He maintained that commanders in the group screened recruits and rejected individuals deemed too young to serve. In concluding testimony before the court, Ntaganda denied interfering with witnesses.
- Protected Witness: Appearing via video link from Bunia in eastern Congo, this individual testified with full protective measures and all of her evidence was heard in closed session.
- Zawadi Bahati Richard: A former Congolese militia trainee at Uganda’s Kyankwanzi military school, he recounted his arrival at the camp and stated that no details of age were requested by Ugandan officials.
- Witness D201: Appeared via video link and the bulk of his testimony was heard in closed session. The witness testified about students’ school attendance patterns during ethnic conflict in the region in 2002 and 2003. He is believed to be a former head teacher at an undisclosed school in Ituri.
- Witness D057: Believed to be a staff member from an unnamed school in Ituri. Testified via video link and the bulk of his testimony was heard in closed session.
- Witness D211: The seventh individual called to testify by Ntaganda’s lawyers. Her evidence was heard via video link and entirely in closed session.
- Witness D038: This witness was granted protective measures and all of his evidence was heard in closed session.
- Witness D017: Most of this former UPC member’s testimony was heard in closed session. In the brief moments of open court, he testified that despite the absence of documentation to verify the age of recruits at the Mandro training camp, there were no recruits under the age of 18 years at the camp. The witness also stated that sexual relations among female and male recruits, as well as between recruits and instructors at the camp, were “strictly prohibited.”
- Witness D243: The evidence of this witness related to the communication capabilities of the UPC. He testified in closed session, with full protective measures.
- Witness D251: A former member of the UPC, she disputed the account of a prosecution witness known as Witness P10, an alleged former UPC child soldier, who said there was sexual abuse within the UPC. Witness D251 testified largely in closed session.
- Witness D207: A former trader in Ituri province during 2002-2003, the defense called him to challenge the testimony of prosecution Witness P898 who testified, among others, about allegations of non-consensual sexual relations within the UPC. Witness D207 testified remotely via video link and was granted full protective measures.
- Witness D123:This witness did not appear in person before court but had his prior recorded testimony submitted into evidence. Judges found his evidence relevant because it challenged the validity of a document concerning family relations of prosecution Witness P894. The unnamed document was discussed and admitted for the purpose of impeachment during Witness P894’s cross-examination in June 2016. The prosecution witness testified about ethnic tensions in Ituri province, a crime of murder, and two attacks by the UPC militia on Mongbwalu town.
- Witness D134: The prior recorded statement of this witness was admitted into evidence. The statement concerns the baptism record of prosecution Witness P888, who testified as an alleged former child soldier. The defense says this prosecution witness lied about his age and date of birth. The baptism record was admitted into evidence for impeachment purposes.
- Witness D148:The witness did not appear before judges but had her prior recorded statement admitted into evidence. According to the defense, her statement was limited to commenting on deficiencies on a birth certificate admitted for prosecution Witness P883, suggesting that it was a forgery.
- Witness D150: The testimony by this witness concerns the authenticity of the birth certificate admitted for prosecution Witness P883 and addresses how the office that purportedly issued the document functions. According to the defense, Witness D150 did not recognize the writing on the document as being either his own or that of his superior who were both on duty on the reported date of the document’s issuance.
- Witness D163: The prior recorded statement of this witness, which was admitted into evidence, relates to the procedure for issuing birth certificates by officers of the Civil Registry in Congo and provides information about the basis of information appearing on electoral cards. Judges determined that Witness D163’s statement was relevant because it addressed the reliability of the different forms of birth certification in Congo.
- Witness D013: Judges determined that his prior recorded testimony is relevant because it concerns the political context leading to the creation of UPC, its structure, functioning, and policies in 2002-2003, including the UPC’s approach to demobilization of child soldiers.
- Witness D080: The prior recorded testimony of this witness was admitted into evidence. The statement by this former insider in the UPC/FPLC related to various issues relevant to the charges, including the acts and conduct of Ntaganda. The defense team had tried to have the witness testify via video link, but this failed when necessary arrangements could not be made with the government authorities in the unnamed country where he resides. Efforts to have him testify physically from The Hague also failed.
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.
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.
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 commences at the seat of the court in The Hague.
April 20, 2016
Luc Boutin becomes the second defense lawyer to step down from representing Ntaganda at the ICC. Boutin cites personal reasons for the resignation, but no details are made public.
July 15, 2016
Judges direct the prosecution to reduce the number of witnesses it intends to call to testify against Ntaganda. According to Presiding Judge Robert Fremr, the chamber expects the prosecution to complete presenting its evidence during the “first couple of months” of 2017. The following month, while maintaining its list of 89 witnesses, the prosecution moved to make its case shorter by reducing the total time estimate for examining and cross-examining its remaining witnesses by 65 hours.
September 7, 2016
Ntaganda goes on hunger strike and refuses to attend his trial to show his dissatisfaction with an order by judges to maintain restrictions imposed on his communications and contacts. Whereas judges initially ordered that Ntaganda must attend proceedings, hearings stalled when court officials were unable to transport him to the courtroom on medical grounds, and he maintained his refusal to authorize his lawyers to represent him in his absence. Hearings continued for a short while under a protocol established by the judges, whereby Ntaganda’s lawyer represented his interests in his absence.
September 21, 2016
Ntaganda ends his hunger strike and gave defense lawyers mandate to represent him after court officials arranged for his wife to visit him for eight days, in conditions he deemed acceptable.
November 7, 2016
In a notice, the prosecution discloses to the defense evidence alleging that Ntaganda was involved in a “broad scheme to pervert the course of justice, including by coaching potential defense witnesses, obstructing prosecution investigations and interfering with prosecution witnesses.”
November 14, 2016
In response to the witness tampering allegations against Ntaganda, the defense asks judges to stay proceedings to give them time to analyze the disclosed information to ensure all future cross-examinations were conducted in light of the prosecution’s disclosure and to make submissions on the impact of the witness bribery investigation on the fairness of the trial. Judges reject the defense application two days later.
January 4, 2017
Judges affirm that the ICC can try Ntaganda over rape and sexual slavery of child soldiers in the UPC by commanders and soldiers in the same militia group. Ntaganda had contested the jurisdiction of the court to try him on those charges, arguing that under Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions of 1949, war crimes may not be committed by members of an armed force against members of the same armed force.
February 8, 2017
Defense lawyers request judges to make a judicial site visit to locations where Ntaganda and his troops allegedly committed crimes. They ask that the visit takes place before the start of the defense case in order to allow judges to gain knowledge of locations mentioned by prosecution witnesses “but which remain vague and unfamiliar” and yet it was essential to judges’ understanding of the evidence to be presented by the defense.
February 24, 2017
Judges decline Ntaganda’s request for a judicial site visit to Congo.
March 2-3, 2017
Five victims participating in the case present their views and concerns to the court.
March 20, 2017
Ntaganda’s lawyers seek another stay of proceedings citing abuse of court process by the Office of the Prosecutor after it accessed recordings of the accused’s conversations including information on defense strategy. The request was dismissed on April 28, 2017.
March 29, 2017
Prosecution formally notifies the court of the closure of its case-in-chief against Ntaganda.
April 10-13, 2017
Three additional victims participating in the case present their view and concerns to the court.
May 28, 2017
The presentation of defense evidence commences
June 14, 2017
Ntaganda takes the witness stand in his own defense
June 5, 2017
The appeals chamber affirms that the ICC can try Ntaganda over rape of child soldiers.
December 28, 2017
In an order providing directions related to closing briefs and statements, judges indicate that they are considering hearing closing statements in Ntaganda’s trial either in the Democratic Republic of Congo or at a location nearby.
February 19, 2018
After two and a half years of continually pushing for the removal of restrictions on his communications, trial judges finally lift restrictions on Ntaganda’s communications and visits.
February 23, 2018
The defense formally closes its presentation of evidence.
March 16, 2018
Trial Chamber VI formally closes the presentation of evidence in the case against Ntaganda.
In the same decision, judges do not recommend holding closing arguments in the Democratic Republic of Congo due to the security situation in the eastern part of the country. The judges did not rule out holding certain other future hearings in situ, if deemed “appropriate and feasible.”
August 28-30, 2018
Closing arguments are held in The Hague. Statements are given by the prosecution, defense, and lawyers representing victims. In addition, Ntaganda makes an unsworn statement on the final day of the hearing.