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DR Congo militia boss to face ICC verdict in February

Former Congolese militia leader Germain Katanga will face judgement before the International Criminal Court on February 7 in his war crimes trial, in which he is accused of using child soldiers and women as sex slaves.



The Hague: Former Congolese militia leader Germain Katanga will face judgement before the International Criminal Court on February 7 in his war crimes trial, in which he is accused of using child soldiers and women as sex slaves.

"Today, the trial chamber... scheduled a hearing to deliver the judgement in the case of the prosecutor vs Germain Katanga," the Hague-based tribunal said in a statement on Tuesday.

Katanga, 35, went on trial four years ago and faces seven counts of war crimes and three of crimes against humanity, including murder and rape, stemming from conflicts in the Democratic Republic of Congo`s volatile east.

Katanga`s Forces for the Patriotic Resistance in Ituri (FRPI) was founded at the end of 2002, allegedly with the support of neighbouring Uganda.

Its members, from the Lendu and Ngiti ethnic groups, are suspected of having taken part in massacres of another ethnic group, the Hema.

Among other allegations, Katanga -- also known as Simba -- is accused of planning and leading an attack on the village of Bogoro and murdering about 200 civilians.

Women and girls were taken as sex slaves and child fighters forcibly enlisted from the looted village, which was razed to the ground after the attack, prosecutors allege.

In December 2004, Katanga, along with other militia chiefs in the Ituri region, was made a general in the Congolese army as part of a policy to end a five-year civil war that engulfed the vast country.

In 2005, however, the FRPI leader was arrested in DR Congo. The ICC issued an arrest warrant two years later and he was transferred to the court in October 2007.

He remains behind bars at the ICC`s detention unit in The Hague.

Katanga`s co-accused, former militia boss Mathieu Ngudjolo Chui, was acquitted in December after judges said prosecutors had failed to prove that Chui played a commanding role in the Bogoro attack.

It was the first time the ICC, the world`s only permanent war crimes tribunal, acquitted a suspect.

The court has only convicted one other suspect, former Congolese rebel fighter Thomas Lubanga, who was found guilty last year of recruiting and enlisting child soldiers.

In 2003, DR Congo was just starting to emerge from a war that embroiled the armies of a half-dozen nations, and the country`s isolated east was rife with violent militia groups.

Clashes in Ituri broke out in 1999 and devastated the region, said the indictment, killing about 60,000, according to non-governmental group tallies.

From Zee News

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