International Justice Monitor

A project of the Open Society Justice Initiative

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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Ntaganda Says Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni Inspired Him

On the third day of testimony at the International Criminal Court (ICC), Bosco Ntaganda explained the motivations for his involvement with various rebel groups in Congo. He told judges that he was inspired to spearhead the formation of a new fighting group in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo by the example of Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni, who he described as starting a rebellion with 27 men and managing to topple the government.

“Museveni is in power because they went into the bush, just 27 people. In the history of the region there’s no one like the 27 fighters,” stated Ntaganda, while testifying at his trial for war crimes and crimes against humanity. These crimes were allegedly committed while Ntaganda was deputy … Continue Reading

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Ntaganda: I Fought to Liberate Congo from Dictatorship

On the second day of his testimony at the International Criminal Court (ICC), former Congolese rebel leader Bosco Ntaganda told judges that he left the Rwandan army to join an armed insurrection in the Democratic Republic of Congo because he wanted to contribute to the overthrow of a dictatorship in that country.

Ntaganda said his motivation to join the Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo (AFDL) grew after Congolese citizens of the Tutsi ethnic group, to which he belongs, were targeted for killing and displacement. He recounted his days as a military instructor with the Rwanda Patriotic Army (RPA) rebels, his service with Rwanda’s national army once the RPA took control of Kigali, and how he later joined … Continue Reading

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Ntaganda Starts His ICC Testimony, Says Rwandan Genocide Drove Him to Fight in Congo

Former Congo army general and rebel leader Bosco Ntaganda took the witness stand on Wednesday at the International Criminal Court (ICC) to testify in his own defense and recounted how witnessing the 1994 genocide in Rwanda drove him to fight in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The Rwandan genocide saw the killing of up to 800,000 individuals, mainly members of the Tutsi ethnic group.

“I was one of those who put an end to the [Rwandan] genocide,” said the 43-year old who faces 18 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity. “I was young, but I was already in the army … I was a platoon commander, and I witnessed horrific events.”

“Did the genocide contribute to transforming you into the … Continue Reading

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Judges Decline to Restrict Ntaganda Contacts During His Testimony

Trial judges have rejected prosecution requests to slap a range of restrictions on Bosco Ntaganda during his upcoming testimony at the International Criminal Court (ICC). They determined that the measures suggested by the prosecution were unnecessary or not enforceable.

Among others, judges declined to bar Ntaganda from meeting his lawyers during his testimony that is expected to last for up to six weeks. The judges also declined to order Ntaganda’s lawyers to tell defense witnesses not to watch the accused’s testimony in any manner.

Ntaganda, a former rebel commander in the Democratic Republic of Congo, will take the witness stand in his own defense on Wednesday, June 14. Only one witness has so far testified for the defense, which says it has lined … Continue Reading

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Ntaganda’s Impeding Testimony at the ICC Raises Contentious Issues

Bosco Ntaganda’s impeding testimony at the International Criminal Court (ICC) has put into focus some contentious issues related to the protocols under which an accused person may testify in their own defense. Issues under contention include whether the court’s witness preparation procedures should apply to the accused and prosecution proposals to prohibit communication between the accused and his lawyers for the duration of his testimony and to restrict defense witnesses from following Ntaganda’s testimony in “any manner.”

On May 17, 2017, judges granted a defense request for Ntaganda to testify in his own defense, with his testimony expected to last for up to six weeks starting June 14. The former rebel leader has been on trial at the ICC since September … Continue Reading

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Witness Says He Was Turned Away from UPC Training Camp for Being Underage

The first witness to testify in Bosco Ntaganda’s defense at the International Criminal Court (ICC) has recounted how Union of Congolese Patriots (UPC) commanders turned him away when he volunteered to join the militia group because they deemed him to be underage.

Olivier Maki Dhekana, who began testifying yesterday, stated that his motivation for joining the UPC was to protect members of his Gegere ethnic group, who were under attack from rival groups during 2002 and 2003. Ntaganda, who was the deputy chief of staff of the militia group, is on trial facing 18 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity, including enlisting and using children under the age of 15 years in an armed conflict.

However, during cross-examination prosecution lawyer Eric … Continue Reading

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