International Justice Monitor

A project of the Open Society Justice Initiative

Ntaganda Slashes Number of His Witness to Forty

Former Congolese rebel commander Bosco Ntaganda has reduced the number of witnesses he will call to testify at the International Criminal Court (ICC) from more than 100 to 40 following the weeks-long testimony he gave in his own defense. Before Ntaganda began his testimony, defense lawyers said they would make their case significantly shorter if the accused was allowed to testify for several weeks at the start of the defense case.

Following the completion of Ntaganda’s testimony at the end of last month, his lawyers filed an updated list that comprises 40 witnesses. Last week, the lawyers said they would no longer call one of those witnesses (D-214). Meanwhile, the defense asked judges to allow the addition of two individuals, Witness … Continue Reading

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Ntaganda’s Trial at the ICC Stalls Due to Unavailability of Defense Witnesses

The trial of former Congolese rebel commander Bosco Ntaganda at the International Criminal Court (ICC) has stalled due to the unavailability of defense witnesses. At the end of Thursday’s hearing, Presiding Judge Robert Fremr announced that “it was not clear” whether proceedings in the trial would continue as scheduled following an email from the defense detailing challenges in getting witnesses to appear before the court.

According to the email, “due to events beyond its control,” the defense was unable to finalize review of evidence to be provided by an upcoming witness, referred to in court as Witness D-017. As such, the defense was not in a position to refer the witness to the court’s Victims and Witnesses Unit (VWU) on Friday, … Continue Reading

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Ntaganda Trial on Break After Testimony of Seventh Defense Witness

The trial of former Congolese militia commander Bosco Ntaganda at the International Criminal Court (ICC) is on a break until October 17, when judges will hear the evidence of the eighth defense witness.

The break came after the conclusion of the two-day testimony of the seventh witness called by Ntaganda’s lawyers. Testifying under the pseudonym Witness D-211, her evidence was heard via video link and entirely in closed session.

In an application to hear the testimony of Witness D-211 via video link, defense lawyers stated that the witness had expressed concerns that traveling to the seat of the court may expose her identity. While the scope of her testimony was redacted from the defense’s public filing, the document indicates that the witness … Continue Reading

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In Concluding Testimony at the ICC, Ntaganda Denies Interfering with Witnesses

After several weeks on the witness stand, Bosco Ntaganda today concluded giving evidence in his own defense at the International Criminal Court (ICC). The concluding parts of his testimony focused on his communications from the court’s detention center, which the prosecution alleges he used to interfere with witnesses.

Asked by defense lawyer Stéphane Bourgon whether, through his communications, he asked anyone to “mislead” or “lie before the court,” Ntaganda replied, “Not at all. When I would speak to someone, often it was people I had contact with [before detention at the ICC]. I would say how ‘are things going?’ If it was someone who was with me [during the conflict], I would ask to be reminded of certain events,” stated Ntaganda.

He … Continue Reading

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Ntaganda to Call Fewer Witnesses Than Initially Anticipated

Bosco Ntaganda’s lawyers intend to reduce the number of witnesses they will call to testify for the former Congolese rebel commander at the International Criminal Court (ICC).

“We need to take full stock of Ntaganda’s testimony before we confirm to the chamber and come forward with a list of new witnesses,” lead defense lawyer Stéphane Bourgon said on Friday afternoon. The defense said it would provide the details of the witnesses to be dropped off its list, but that it was “likely they could be more than 11”.

Prior to the opening of the defense case last May, Bourgon indicated that they intended to call more than 100 witnesses to testify for Ntaganda, who is on trial at the ICC over crimes … Continue Reading

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Ntaganda Maintains That He Did Not Kill a Priest

Former Congolese rebel commander Bosco Ntaganda has continued to deny the prosecution’s accusation that he killed priest Boniface Bwanalonga during an ethnic conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) in 2002. Giving evidence in his own defense at the International Criminal Court (ICC), Ntaganda also denied giving orders to his troops to rape three nuns who were arrested together with Bwanalonga.

According to Ntaganda, the priest was arrested during field operations by fighters from the Union of Congolese Patriots (UPC) in the town of Mongbwalu. Three nuns in the priest’s company at the time of his arrest purportedly volunteered to escort him to the militia group’s camp.  “They refused to leave the priest when he was arrested in the … Continue Reading

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Ntaganda Says He Punished Soldiers Who Attacked Civilians

In his continuing testimony at the International Criminal Court (ICC), ex-militia leader Bosco Ntaganda stated that he enforced discipline in the Patriotic Forces for the Liberation of Congo (FPLC) and punished any fighter who attacked civilians.

“If any soldier had attacked the civilian population and such information was brought to my attention, such soldier would be punished,” said Ntaganda. He was responding to a question by a prosecuting lawyer Nicole Samson about the alleged attacks by FPLC militia on members of the Lendu ethnic group.

Asked by Samson whether he investigated any ethnically motivated attacks, Ntaganda stated that the FPLC provided protection to all ethnic groups in Congo’s Ituri district, and there were no campaigns against civilians of Lendu ethnicity.

“In my capacity … Continue Reading

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Ntaganda Trial: Uganda Cited in Training of Child Soldiers

Following a one-month break, Bosco Ntaganda has resumed testimony in his own defense at the International Criminal Court (ICC), denying knowledge of the existence of child soldiers among the Congolese militia forces trained by the Uganda government.

Under cross-examination by prosecution lawyer Nicole Samson, Ntaganda stated that Ugandan authorities were in charge of the training exercise and he “was not in a position to know” the age of recruits airlifted to Uganda in 2000.

According to prosecution, in August 2000, Uganda’s army airlifted up to 700 Congolese militia fighters to train them at two military schools in Uganda. Samson stated that the trainees included up to 163 children, some under the age of 18 and others below 15 years of age. When … Continue Reading

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Ntaganda to Resume Testifying at ICC Next Week

Next week, former Congolese rebel leader Bosco Ntaganda will resume testifying in his own defense at the International Criminal Court (ICC), where he has been on trial since September 2015.

The 43-year-old Ntaganda, who is on trial for 18 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity, commenced giving his evidence on June 14. On July 21, when the ICC went on recess, the prosecution had just started its cross-examination.

Ntaganda is charged with crimes committed during August 2002 and May 2003 while he served as a deputy chief of staff of the Forces for the Liberation of Congo (FLPC), a militia group in Eastern Congo that served as the armed wing of the Union of Congolese Patriots (UPC). He has been … Continue Reading

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Reactions from People in an Ituri Village to Bosco Ntaganda’s Trial

This article was prepared by our partner Radio Canal Révélation, a radio station based in Bunia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), as part of an interactive radio project on justice and peace which encourages a debate on issues related to justice in the DRC. The views conveyed in this article belong to the people interviewed and do not necessarily represent the views of all the community members, or those of the victims.

The inhabitants of Lopa, where Bosco Ntaganda made his headquarters in the Ituri province of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), are calling for ICC investigations of and reparations for victims in the area. The crimes allegedly committed in Lopa are not the focus of the … Continue Reading

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