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Germain Katanga found guilty of four counts of war crimes and one count of crime against humanity committed in Ituri, DRC

March 7, 2014

Today, the ICC found Germain Katanga guilty of four counts of war crimes and one count of crimes against humanity. A summary of the Trial Judgment can be found here and the judgement (in French) can be found here.

Germain Katanga, alleged commander of the Force de résistance patriotique en Ituri (FRPI), was tried before Trial Chamber II, composed of Judges Bruno Cotte, Fatoumata Dembele Diarra and Christine Van den Wyngaert, for the crimes against humanity of murder, rape and sexual slavery and the war crimes of wilful killing, directing an attack against a civilian population as such or against individual civilians not taking direct part in hostilities, destruction of property, pillaging, using children under the age of fifteen years to participate actively in hostilities, sexual slavery, and rape.

In its judgment today, Trial Chamber II said that it was satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that Germain Katanga’s was guilty of an accessory, within the meaning of article 25(3)(d) of the Rome Statute, to one crime against humanity (murder) and four war crimes (murder, attacking a civilian population, destruction of property and pillaging) committed on 24 February 2003 during the attack on the village of Bogoro, in the Ituri district of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

The Chamber changed the characterisation of the mode of liability against Mr Katanga – who had initially been charged as principal perpetrator – on the basis of article 25(3)(d) of the Rome Statute, which defines being an accessory as contributing “[i]n any other way […] to the commission […] of […] a crime by a group of persons acting with a common purpose”. Germain Katanga was found guilty, as an accessory within the meaning of article 25(3)(d) of the Rome Statute, of the crimes of murder constituting a crime against humanity and a war crime and the crimes of directing an attack against the civilian population as such or against individual civilians not taking direct part in hostilities, destroying the enemy’s property and pillaging constituting war crimes. The Chamber also decided that Germain Katanga shall continue to be detained pending sentencing.

The Trial Chamber acquitted Germain Katanga of the other charges that he was facing. With respect to these charges, the Chamber found that there was evidence beyond reasonable doubt that the crimes of rape and sexual slavery were committed. Regarding the crime of using child soldiers, it found that there were children within the Ngiti militia and among the combatants who were in Bogoro on the day of the attack. However, the Chamber concluded that the evidence presented in support of the accused’s guilt did not satisfy it beyond reasonable doubt of the accused’s responsibility for these crimes.

In her dissenting opinion, Judge Van den Wyngaert challenges the change in the characterisation of Germain Katanga’s mode of liability. She argues that the change in characterisation rendered the trial unfair and breached the rights of the Defence, as it did not receive proper notification of the new charges and was not afforded a reasonable opportunity to conduct investigations in order to mount a defence against them. Judge Van den Wyngaert maintains that there is no basis in the evidence for findings beyond reasonable doubt which can be relied on to establish Germain Katanga’s guilt.

 

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