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ICC sentences Congolese warlord Katanga to 12 years

23 may 2014, 21:12
0

The International Criminal Court on Friday sentenced Congolese warlord Germain "Simba" Katanga to 12 years in jail for arming an ethnic militia that carried out a "particularly cruel" 2003 village massacre, AFP reports.

"The chamber sentences Germain Katanga to 12 years in prison," presiding Judge Bruno Cotte told the Hague-based court in its second sentencing since opening in 2003.

The almost seven years that Katanga has already spend in detention will be deducted from the sentence, he said.

Katanga, 36, was convicted in March of war crimes and crimes against humanity including murder and pillaging for his role in the attack on Bogoro village in the volatile eastern Democratic Republic of Congo on February 24, 2003.

Judges found that he armed fighters of the Patriotic Resistance Forces in Ituri (FRPI) who carried out the village massacre in which more than 200 people died.

"The scars of the fighting that occurred that day are still be seen today," Judge Cotte said on Friday.

The use of machetes in the attack was "particularly cruel and caused extreme suffering", Cotte added.

The man once known as "Simba" (lion), showed no emotion as Cotte read the sentence. During the hearing, he sat with his hands folded in front of him with his gaze fixed on the judge.

The ICC however cleared Katanga of charges of rape, sexual slavery and using child soldiers.

Katanga's lawyers have appealed his conviction and now have another 30 days to appeal his sentence.

The decision on the conviction's appeal is still pending.

The sentencing is court's second since opening its doors in 2003, with another Congolese warlord and Katanga's one-time adversary Thomas Lubanga sentenced to 14 years in July 2012.

The Ituri region where the massacre occurred has been riven by violence since 1999, when clashes broke out that killed at least 60,000 people, according to rights groups.

In 2003, the DR Congo was just emerging from a war that embroiled at least half a dozen nations, and its isolated east was rife with violent militias including the FRPI.

The fighting has been driven by ethnic conflict and battles between rival militias for control of the region's rich haul of gold, oil and diamonds.

In 2004 Katanga was made a general in President Joseph Kabila's army as part of a policy to end the civil strife -- until Kinshasa arrested him in 2005.

He was transferred to The Hague in October 2007 and his trial, together with that of his co-accused Mathieu Ngudjolo Chui, started two years later.

Judges in November 2012 split the trials and Ngudjolo was acquitted a year later after judges ruled that he did not play a commanding role in the Bogoro attack.

The Hague-based ICC, the world's only permanent independent tribunal to try the world's worst crimes, has so far only convicted one other suspect.

Katanga's arch-enemy and former Congolese rebel fighter Lubanga was sentenced in 2012 to 14 years for recruiting and enlisting child soldiers.


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