International Justice Monitor

A project of the Open Society Justice Initiative

Last Prosecution Witness Testifies in Ntaganda Trial

The prosecution has called its final witness in the International Criminal Court (ICC) trial of former Congolese rebel leader Bosco Ntaganda, which opened 17 months ago.

Today, the last prosecution witness testified about school records for some of the alleged former child soldiers who testified in the trial earlier. Désiré Dudunyabo Tandana, also known as Witness P551, is a former inspector of schools in the eastern Congo town of Bunia, and he was questioned about records that showed the age of former pupils in various schools.

Establishing the age of the students when they were enrolled in school is one of the means the prosecution has used to show that at the time these children purportedly served in Ntaganda’s Union of Congolese Patriots … Continue Reading

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More Evidence in Ntaganda Trial Heard in Closed Session

Hearings in Bosco Ntaganda’s International Criminal Court (ICC) trial have for the second half of this week been conducted in closed session. Witness P857 and Witness P116 have testified in proceedings closed to the public since Wednesday.

Witness P116 appeared before Trial Chamber VI via video link. In an oral ruling last Friday, Presiding Judge Robert Fremr said judges had granted a prosecution request to hear the evidence of the witness remotely because of an undisclosed medical condition. According to Judge Fremr, judges considered that Witness P116’s testimony had previously been rescheduled due to ill health, hence they granted leave for his remote appearance.

Article 69 of the Rome Statute permits the giving of evidence by means of video or audio technology … Continue Reading

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Witness: Both Sides in Congo Conflict Killed Civilians

A former United Nations (UN) investigator in the Democratic Republic of Congo has recalled how rival sides to an ethnic conflict in that country engaged in killings and pillaging during 2002 and 2003.

“Civilians were killed by both sides. Pillaging was carried out by pretty much everybody – combats and also the population which took advantage of the situation,” said Sonia Bakar, who lead the investigations unit of the human rights section of the former UN Mission in Congo (MONUC).

Testifying at the International Criminal Court (ICC) trial of former rebel leader Bosco Ntaganda, Bakar said that up to 250 individuals were killed in various attacks by the accused’s troops on Mongbwalu and Bunia in Ituri district. Her investigations also found evidence implicating … Continue Reading

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UN Investigators ‘Found Widespread Reports of Crimes by Ntaganda’s Forces’

A former United Nations official in the Democratic Republic of Congo has testified how investigations by her team found widespread reports of crimes committed by members of the Union of Congolese Patriots (UPC), the militia in which war crimes accused Bosco Ntaganda was a senior commander.

Testifying at Ntaganda’s trial at the International Criminal Court (ICC), Sonia Bakar, who headed the investigations unit of the human rights section of the UN Mission in Congo (MONUC), recounted investigations into human rights violations in Ituri district during 2002-2003. MONUC was renamed in 2010 the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO).

The investigations were conducted as part of her unit’s role in monitoring the human rights situation in … Continue Reading

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Former Congolese Judge Testifies at Ntaganda’s ICC Trial

A former judge from the Ituri district of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has become one of the very few witnesses to testify publicly against ex-rebel leader Bosco Ntaganda at the International Criminal Court (ICC). Jacques Kabasele, also known as Witness P043, took the stand today to testify under his real name and with his face showing in public broadcasts of his testimony.

Last Friday, judges declined to grant this witness the use of a pseudonym and distortion of his voice and image, noting that his prior involvement with the court was “publicly known” and that there had been no reports of risks to his life over his cooperation with the court’s prosecutors. Judges also determined that, given his current … Continue Reading

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Judges at ICC Decline to Grant Protective Measures to Upcoming Prosecution Witness

Trial judges at the International Criminal Court (ICC) have declined to grant protective measures to a witness due to testify against former Congolese rebel commander Bosco Ntaganda in his ongoing war crimes trial at the court based in The Hague.

In an oral ruling delivered this afternoon by presiding judge Robert Fremr, the chamber found that, given Witness P043’s current location and the nature of his anticipated testimony, there was no objectively justifiable risk to the witness or his family to warrant the use of image and voice distortion during public broadcasts of his testimony.

Judges said the unnamed individual’s prior involvement with the court is “publicly known.” They added that the prosecution’s submissions regarding the current risks to the witness were … Continue Reading

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Ntaganda Appeals ICC Decision to Try Him Over Rape of UPC Child Soldiers

Bosco Ntaganda is taking his challenge to the International Criminal Court’s mandate to try him over the rape of child soldiers in his militia group to the court’s Appeals Chamber, after trial judges affirmed that they would try him on those charges.

The appeal has been raised pursuant to Article 82(1)(a) of the court’s founding law, the Rome Statute, which provides that a party to a case may appeal a decision with respect to court’s jurisdiction. Ntaganda has since September 2015 been on trial for 18 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity. He is only contesting the ICC’s mandate to try him on two of those counts.

In the January 10, 2017 appeal notice, defense lawyer Stéphane Bourgon asks appeals … Continue Reading

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Hearings in Ntaganda Trial Continue in Closed Session

Proceedings in the trial of Bosco Ntaganda at the International Criminal Court (ICC) have remained closed to the public this week. Today, judges heard the testimony of Witness P005 and Witness P108, both of whom testified via video link from a confidential location. According to a January 3, 2017 ruling on their remote appearance, the witnesses suffer from “serious health conditions” that prevented them from travelling to The Hague to testify.

Witness P005, who started testifying in the trial last Thursday, was said to be recovering from an undisclosed medical condition. Moreover, according to the court’s Victims and Witnesses Section, he had limited mobility and had been advised by a doctor to avoid exhausting activities.

For his part, Witness P108 was said to be of advanced age, has … Continue Reading

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Ntaganda Trial: Video Link Testimony of Witness P005 Heard in Closed Session

The evidence of the latest prosecution witness in Bosco Ntaganda’s trial at the International Criminal Court (ICC) has so far been heard in closed session. The individual, who goes by the pseudonym Witness P005, took the witness stand yesterday afternoon via video link from an undisclosed location.

On January 3, 2017, judges granted a prosecution request to hear the testimony of Witness P005 remotely because he was unable to the travel to The Hague. The witness was said to be recovering from an undisclosed medical condition. Moreover, according to the court’s Victims and Witnesses Section, he had limited mobility and had been advised by a doctor to avoid exhausting activities.

Defense lawyers opposed the appearance of Witness P005 by way of video … Continue Reading

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Recorded Testimony of Witness Who Declined to Testify at Ntaganda Trial Admitted Into Evidence

The recorded testimony of a witness who declined to testify at Bosco Ntaganda’s trial at the International Criminal Court (ICC) has been provisionally admitted into evidence. The witness, who was called by prosecutors in October 2015, 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.

Judges Robert Fremr (presiding), Kuniko Ozaki, and Chang-ho Chung ruled that Witness P039’s prior recorded testimony was relevant to allegations against Ntaganda related to attacks by the Union of Congolese Patriots (UPC) troops on Mongbwalu town in 2002 and an undisclosed locality in February 2003, as well as the capture and imprisonment of civilians of … Continue Reading

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