International Justice Monitor

A project of the Open Society Justice Initiative

Alleged Rape of Child Soldiers the Focus of Ntaganda’s Latest Witness

The alleged rape of child soldiers in a Congolese militia was the focus of Thursday’s testimony by a witness called by lawyers for former rebel leader Bosco Ntaganda. Ntaganda, who has been on trial at the International Criminal Court (ICC) since September 2015, is charged with 18 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity, including the rape and sexual abuse of child soldiers.

Witness D215, who served with the Union of Congolese Patriots (UPC) rebel group, 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. She testified largely in closed session.

According to the defense, the testimony of Witness D215 – a female fighter … Continue Reading

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Evidence About Ntaganda’s Communication Capabilities Heard in Closed Session

Today, judges trying former Congolese rebel leader Bosco Ntaganda heard about the communication capabilities of the Union of Congolese Patriots (UPC) militia he commanded. This testimony came from the tenth witness called by the defense.

However, evidence by the witness was heard in closed session in order to save him from reprisals for testifying at the International Criminal Court (ICC). He resides in Ituri district in eastern Congo, the area where Ntaganda reportedly committed several crimes 15 years ago. The court’s Victims and Witnesses Unit (VWU) advised that the witness’s identity be withheld given the instability in the region

Testifying under the pseudonym Witness D243, this individual is a recent addition to the list of witnesses to be called by the defense. … Continue Reading

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Prosecutors Challenge Witness Testimony That Ntaganda’s Troops Did Not Commit Atrocities

The prosecution has disputed the account of a former fighter in Bosco Ntaganda’s Union of Congolese Patriots (UPC), who said members of the militia did not commit atrocities during attacks in 2002 on villages inhabited by members of the Lendu ethnic group.

During the cross-examination of Witness D017, trial lawyer Diane Luping read excerpts from three documents that detailed acts of rape, pillaging, and killings allegedly committed by UPC fighters in the localities of Zumbe and Kamande. The documents included a report by the former United Nations Mission in Congo (MONUC), which detailed the killing of 120 civilians in Zumbe by UPC fighters on October 15-16, 2002.

The UPC, in which Ntaganda was the deputy chief of staff, was predominately composed of … Continue Reading

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Ntaganda Trial Resumes With Testimony of Former UPC Militiaman

After a five-week break, hearings in the trial of Bosco Ntaganda at the International Criminal Court (ICC) resumed on Monday with the testimony of the ninth defense witness – a former fighter in the Union of Congolese Patriots (UPC), the militia where the accused was a top commander. The defense case for Ntaganda, who denies 18 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity, opened last June.

The former militiaman, who is testifying under the court-given pseudonym Witness D017, has been the subject of numerous submissions before the chamber. Due to undisclosed challenges, he was last month unable to appear before judges as planned. At the time, the defense said it was unable to finalize reviewing Witness D017’s evidence prior to … Continue Reading

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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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