Congolese warlord Katanga on trial again

2016-02-03 17:36
Germain Katanga. (File: AFP)

Germain Katanga. (File: AFP)

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Kinshasa - Notorious Congolese warlord Germain Katanga was back in the dock on Wednesday for crimes against humanity, after completing a first 12-year sentence handed down by the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Smiling and relaxed, the former general nicknamed Simba the lion due to his alleged ferocity, entered the military court and warmly greeted senior officers before the trial started.

Katanga's first sentence for complicity in war crimes and crimes against humanity was reduced in November by the ICC for good behaviour and after he voiced regret.

He was brought back from The Hague to Kinshasa late last year to complete his term and had been scheduled to walk free on January 18 when Democratic Republic of Congo authorities decided to keep him behind bars to prosecute for "other cases".

The 37-year-old was convicted by the ICC over a 2003 attack on the village of Bogoro that saw 200 people shot and hacked to death. He was acquitted of sexual slavery and using child soldiers.

This time Katanga and five co-accused face charges of "war crimes, crimes against humanity and participation in an insurrectional movement”.

One of the cases touches on his alleged role in the killing of nine UN peacekeepers in the violence-torn Ituri region in the country's northeast in 2005, Justice Minister Alexis Thambwe Mwamba has said.

The gold-rich Ituri region was riven by violence between largely ethnic-based militias from 1999 to 2007 in which about 60 000 people were killed, according to rights groups.

DR Congo itself, a country of more than 67 million people that is Africa's second largest, was torn by two wars between 1996 and 2003 estimated to have cost at least two to three million lives.

Its eastern provinces remain ravaged by conflicts between ethnic groups and local warlords over control of land and mineral resources.

Many atrocities such as rape, killing and enslavement have been committed, most of them unpunished until 2014 when the authorities began to take measures to end impunity.

 

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