International Justice Monitor

A project of the Open Society Justice Initiative

Ntaganda’s Testimony Enters Fourth Week as Court Goes on Recess

On Friday, the testimony of former Congolese rebel commander Bosco Ntaganda at the International Criminal Court (ICC) entered its fourth week. It was also the last day of hearings before the court goes into summer recess.

On June 14, Ntaganda took the stand to testify in his defense at the ICC. He has since recounted his involvement in various rebel groups, which he said was motivated by the 1994 genocide in Rwanda and inspired by Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni. Ntaganda told judges that he left his post in Rwanda’s national army to participate in groups that were fighting to liberate the Democratic Republic of Congo from the dictatorship of Mobutu Sese Seko.

Ntaganda explained that the Union of Congolese Patriots (UPC), in … Continue Reading

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Ntaganda Denies Executing Insubordinate Rebel Fighters in Congo

On Wednesday, former Congolese rebel commander Bosco Ntaganda denied shooting dead a rebel fighter of the Union of Congolese Patriots (UPC) militia for allegedly refusing to participate in combat operations. While giving testimony in his own defense at the International Criminal Court (ICC), Ntaganda also rejected prosecution claims the militia in which he was a top commander shot dead fighters who were caught while attempting to desert.

“Is the information that you shot an individual who was 24 years old because he refused to participate in an operation true or not true?” asked prosecution lawyer Nicole Samson.

“I never executed any soldier from the UPC. I never killed a soldier who allegedly refused to go to the front,” replied Ntaganda.

Samson’s question was … Continue Reading

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Ntaganda Denies Being Military Leader of UPC Militia

In his continuing testimony at the International Criminal Court (ICC), Bosco Ntaganda has denied claims by the prosecution that he was the de facto military leader of the militia known as the Union of Congolese Patriots (UPC).

Under cross-examination by the prosecution, Ntaganda stated that during 2002 and 2003, he remained subordinate to the UPC’s chief of general staff, Floribert Kisembo. He added that he was also subordinate to Thomas Lubanga who was the group’s political leader.

“You bypassed Kisembo when giving orders and responding to commanders. Is that right?” asked prosecution lawyer Nicole Samson.

“If I short-circuited him, then our army would be destroyed,” said Ntaganda, who served as deputy chief of general staff in the UPC.

On Monday, Samson presented communication logs … Continue Reading

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In Testimony at ICC, Ntaganda Denies Killing a Priest

War crimes accused Bosco Ntaganda has denied accusations that he killed a priest in the Congolese town of Mongbwalu 15 years ago. Testifying in his own defense at the International Criminal Court (ICC), the former rebel commander stated that he only learned of the death of the priest after surrendering to the court based in The Hague in March 2013.

“When you said you know nothing about [Abbe Boniface] Bwanalonga, was that the case?” asked defense lawyer Stéphane Bourgon, referring to the priest who prosecutors claim was murdered by Ntaganda.

“Yes, I did not know anything about it,” replied Ntaganda, adding that the death of the priest came to his attention while he was reviewing unspecified documents following his arrival at the … Continue Reading

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Ntaganda Maintains That UPC Militia Rejected Underage Recruits

Former Congolese rebel leader Bosco Ntaganda has maintained that the Union of Congolese Patriots (UPC) militia in which he was a top commander screened its recruits to weed out individuals who did not meet requirements, such as those underage. He said recruits deemed too young to serve in the group were sent back to their homes.

Testifying in his own trial at the International Criminal Court (ICC), Ntaganda stated that the screening that was enforced at the group’s main training camp in Mandro also applied at other camps, such as Rwampara. However, he did not state what exact age was considered unacceptable for admission into the militia.

“When you went to Rwampara [training camp], did you notice any recruits who did not … Continue Reading

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Ntaganda’s Testimony at The ICC to Last More Than Six Weeks

Bosco Ntaganda’s testimony at the International Criminal Court (ICC) will last more than the initially anticipated six weeks. Yesterday, judges granted defense lawyers an additional 15 hours to question the former Congolese rebel leader who is testifying in his own defense at the court based in The Hague.

In granting the defense request for additional time, judges stated that the decision was “exceptional” given that Ntaganda is appearing as a witness in his own trial. “The chamber acknowledges that Ntaganda is the accused. In this regard, it may be difficult to estimate the time required for a lengthy examination,” ruled Presiding Judge Robert Fremr. “Accordingly, the chamber grants the defense request to be allocated a maximum of 15 additional hours to … Continue Reading

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Ntaganda: I Prohibited Sexual Relations Within the UPC Militia

Bosco Ntaganda told International Criminal Court (ICC) judges on Wednesday that he prohibited sexual relations among members of the Union of Congolese Patriots (UPC) militia and the policy was respected by all troops.

“At all assemblies of recruits, I told male recruits that nobody could sleep with a female recruit. It was forbidden,” said Ntaganda, who is testifying in his own defense.

The former top UPC commander stated that, in his addresses to recruits, he emphasized that since the reason they had joined the group was to protect civilians, no fighter was allowed to become pregnant or to have a sexual relationship with another fighter. This message was “repeated on several occasion and it was respected,” he said.

Asked by defense lawyer Stephane … Continue Reading

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Ntaganda Says UPC Did Not Have Conscripts

On the fourth day of his testimony at the International Criminal Court (ICC), former Congolese rebel commander Bosco Ntaganda has told judges that there were no conscripts at the Union of Congolese Patriots (UPC) training camps. Ntaganda, the former deputy chief of staff of the UPC militia, also stated that discipline was strictly maintained within the militia and that ethnic discrimination was forbidden within the group.

He explained that the group set up one of its main training facilities at Mandro to train soldiers to protect civilians against attacks by the Congolese Popular Army (APC), the armed wing of a rebel group known as the Congolese Rally for Democracy-Kisangani. In his earlier testimony, Ntaganda cited the APC among armed groups that … Continue Reading

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Appeals Chamber Affirms ICC Can Try Ntaganda Over Rape of Child Soldiers

The Appeals Chamber has affirmed that the International Criminal Court (ICC) has jurisdiction over cases in which soldiers of an armed group commit war crimes against members of the same group. The decision puts to rest Bosco Ntaganda’s contention that the court based in The Hague lacks the mandate to try him over the alleged rape of child soldiers.

Ntaganda is facing 18 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity. Under counts six and nine, the former Congolese rebel leader is charged with rape and sexual slavery of child soldiers who served in the Union of Congolese Patriots (UPC) by fighters from the same militia. The alleged crimes were committed during 2002 and 2003 when he, and members of the group, … Continue Reading

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Overview of the Prosecution’s Case Against Ntaganda

On February 16, 2017, the last prosecution witness to testify against former Congolese rebel leader Bosco Ntaganda at the International Criminal Court (ICC) concluded giving evidence. Ntaganda’s trial began in September 2015, and in the 17 months since the opening of the prosecution’s case at the court based in The Hague, prosecutors called 71 individuals to give testimony. Those who testified included victims and witnesses to the alleged crimes, insiders in the militia where Ntaganda was a top commander, and expert witnesses.

In presenting its case, the prosecution also relied on forensic evidence gathered from exhumed bodies, communication logs, various documents, videos, and photographs.

The defense case opened three months after the evidence of the last prosecution witness. So far, one defense … Continue Reading

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