Africa in the dock at the ICC

2015-09-02 09:11

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The Hague - The International Criminal Court (ICC), where the trial of Congolese warlord Bosco Ntaganda opens on Wednesday, has launched investigations in eight African countries.

Here are details of the main indictments issued by the ICC, the world's first permanent international war crimes court.

Democratic Republic of Congo

The ICC sentenced Congolese warlord Thomas Lubanga in 2012 to 14 years in prison for conscripting children into his rebel army in 2002-2003, the court's first ever verdict. It upheld the decision on appeal in December 2014.

Ex-militia leader Mathieu Ngudjolo Chui was acquitted in December 2012 over a 2003 village massacre. However, another former militia leader Germain Katanga was sentenced in May 2014 to 12 years over the same attack.

Ntaganda - nicknamed "The Terminator" - has pleaded not guilty to 18 charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity over atrocities committed by his Patriotic Forces for the Liberation of Congo in 2002 and 2003, including using child soldiers and sex slaves.

Warlord Sylvestre Mudacumura, military commander of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), is wanted for crimes committed in the volatile eastern Kivu region.

Central African Republic

The Democratic Republic of Congo's former vice president Jean-Pierre Bemba, whose rebel army is accused of atrocities in the Central African Republic, has been detained by the ICC and charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity.

A second formal probe was also opened in September 2014 into an "endless" list of atrocities committed by armed militias since August 2012.

Ivory Coast

Former president Laurent Gbagbo is in custody on four counts of crimes against humanity over months of deadly fighting that erupted after he refused to accept defeat in a November 2010 presidential election. His youth leader, Charles Ble Goude, is also in ICC custody. The trial is expected to begin November 10.

An arrest warrant for Gbagbo's wife Simone, who was sentenced to 20 years in prison in the Ivory Coast, has also been issued. The country has refused to transfer her to The Hague.

Kenya

Two Kenyans, including Vice President William Ruto, are on trial for their alleged roles in the post-election violence that gripped the country in 2007-2008. However, the case against President Uhuru Kenyatta collapsed in December.

Libya

Currently in custody in Libya, Moamer Kadhafi's son Seif al-Islam is accused of crimes against humanity for his alleged role in the repression of the popular uprising which led to the fall of his father's regime in 2011.

Libya and the ICC are competing for the right to judge him.

Mali

The ICC opened a probe in January 2013 into possible war crimes by armed groups during the conflict in Mali between northern Islamist insurgents and the army, backed by French forces. No arrest warrants have been issued.
Sudan

President Omar al-Bashir, 71, was indicted in 2009 on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity over the conflict in the western region of Darfur. The following year he was charged with genocide over events in Darfur, where more than 300 000 people have died since 2003. Five other people are on the ICC's wanted list.

Uganda

The ICC issued arrest warrants for Joseph Kony and other commanders of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) in 2005 for crimes against humanity and war crimes, including the use of child soldiers and sex slaves. Dominic Ongwen was arrested at the end of January and transferred to the ICC.

Others

ICC chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda has also launched preliminary investigations into alleged crimes in Afghanistan, Colombia, Georgia, Honduras, Iraq, Palestine and Ukraine, as well as in Guinea and Nigeria.

She told a press conference Wednesday: "When no-one else is doing justice for the victims, my office will fulfil this duty."

"We will not abandon the victims of atrocity crimes, not in the Democratic Republic of Congo, not in Africa and not in any of the 123 countries around the world which are members of the ICC."

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