Friday, March 07, 2014

Katanga Convicted

One of the longest-running trials at the International Criminal Court (ICC) has ended with the conviction of Germain Katanga, a warlord involved in fighting in the Ituri district of Democratic Republic of Congo. Katanga was found guilty of one count of being an accessory to crimes against humanity and four counts of war crimes.

The charges against Katanga stemmed from an attack on the village of Bogoro on February 24, 2003. In that attack, villagers were shot or killed with machetes, in some cases while sleeping. Prosecutors alleged that the attack was intended to "wipe out" the village, which was considered strategically important due to its proximity to the Ugandan border in a gold-rich region.

Katanga made his first appearance before a pre-trial chamber of the ICC on October 22, 2007. His case was originally linked to that of another defendant, Mathieu Ngudjolo, but the cases were severed and Ngudjolo was acquitted late last year.

The first conviction obtained by the ICC, of Thomas Lubanga Dyilo in March 2012, also involved fighting in the DR Congo. Lubanga was sentenced to fourteen years in prison.

Katanga's conviction is only the second in the ICC's twelve-year history.