Congo warlord drops ICC appeal

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IOL pic may23 ICC DRC Katanga Reuters Germain Katanga sits in the courtroom of the ICC during the closing statements in the trial against him and Ngudjolo Chui in The Hague. File picture: Michael Kooren

The Hague - Convicted Congolese warlord Germain Katanga has dropped an appeal against a 12-year sentence for arming an ethnic militia that carried out a brutal village massacre in 2003, the International Criminal Court said on Wednesday.

The decision cements the Hague-based ICC's first final judgement and its second sentencing since opening its doors in 2003.

Katanga's lawyers “notified the Appeals Chamber that he had decided to discontinue his appeal,” the court said in a statement.

The former militia boss “accepted the judgment... and its conclusions on his role as well as his conduct,” the court added.

In turn, ICC chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said Wednesday that her office would drop their own appeal against the sentence.

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 east of the Democratic Republic of Congo on February 24, 2003.

He was sentenced in May, but judges said the almost seven years Katanga has already spent in detention will be deducted from the sentence.

Judges found Katanga, also known as “Simba” (lion), armed fighters of the Patriotic Resistance Forces in Ituri (FRPI) who carried out the village massacre in which more than 200 people died.

His sentence was the court's second since opening its doors in 2003. Another Congolese warlord and one-time adversary of Katanga, Thomas Lubanga, was given a jail term of 14 years in July 2012 for recruiting and enlisting child soldiers.

The Ituri region where the Bogoro 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 the armies of at least half a dozen nations on rival sides, and its isolated east was rife with violent militias including the FRPI.

Arrested in 2005 in the Congo, Katanga was transferred to The Hague in October 2007.

His trial, together with that of his fellow defendant Mathieu Ngudjolo Chui, started two years later.

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

Sapa-AFP


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