International Justice Monitor

A project of the Open Society Justice Initiative

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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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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