Congo-Kinshasa: Eight Things You Need to Know About the Katanga Case At the ICC

This Friday, the International Criminal Court is due to deliver a verdict in its case against Congolese militia leader Germain Katanga. What else do you need to know?

1. On 7 March, judges at the ICC will find Congolese militia leader Germain Katanga guilty or not guilty for seven counts of war crimes and three counts of crimes against humanity. The case against Katanga has focused exclusively on an attack on the village of Bogoro in the Ituri district of eastern DRC: some 200 people were killed there in February 2003.

2. This trial is the second to have begun at the ICC – after that of Thomas Lubanga Dyilo – also from Ituri, but from a different rival ethnic group, who was found guilty in 2012. But there’s no certainty of a guilty verdict in Katanga’s case, because….

3. Another Ituri militia leader Ngudjolo Chui – who was on trial with Katanga for the same massacre – was acquitted in late 2012 due to insufficient evidence. Ngudjolo has since applied for asylum in the Netherlands.

4. Both Ngudjolo and Katanga gave evidence in their own defence – a first at the ICC – and denied that they commanded forces during the attack or even that they were in Bogoro on the day of the attack.

5. Katanga’s trial is the first at the ICC for sexual crimes: prosecutors have alleged that in Bogoro, women were raped, girls detained to serve as sex slaves or forced into “marriage” with soldiers.

6. The trial started in 2009. One reason it has taken so long is that after both the prosecution and the defence wrapped up the evidence, the judges changed the basis on which Katanga could be found guilty. They changed his alleged responsibility from committing the crimes indirectly – which would mean he had used others to carry them out – to instead judging whether he contributed to the crimes through a group acting with a common purpose.

7. Throughout the trial, there have been many references from both prosecution and defence to a variety of rebel forces which operated in eastern DRC, often blaming them and their backers – the Congolese, Ugandan or Rwandan governments – for various acts of violence.

8. Another rebel commander from Ituri is also due to face trial at the ICC. His name is Bosco Ntaganda.