Congolese militia boss freed

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iol pic afr ICC -Chui AFP Congolese ex-militia boss Mathieu Ngudjolo Chui smiles as he listens to the verdict on his trial at the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

The Hague - Congolese ex-militia leader Mathieu Ngudjolo Chui left his prison in The Netherlands on Friday, three days after the International Criminal Court acquitted him on war crimes charges, the court said.

“Mathieu Ngudjolo Chui has been freed,” Sonia Robla, a spokeswoman for court based in The Hague, told AFP.

“He will stay temporarily in The Netherlands until the UN travel ban in lifted to allow him to return to the Democratic Republic of Congo,” the ICC said in a statement.

Robla said the lifting of the ban could take days or weeks, but declined to say where Ngudjolo would be staying in the meantime.

Ngudjolo, a former leader of a militia group in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, was once one of the most important militia leaders in the northeastern mineral-rich Ituri region.

Now 42, he was accused of using child soldiers to fight for him, including to carry out the massacre of 200 people at Bogoro on February 24, 2003.

Following his acquittal on Tuesday after prosecutors failed to prove his commanding role in the raid, judges rejected a prosecution bid to have Ngudjolo kept behind bars pending an appeal.

Prosecutors argued that he posed a flight risk and that witnesses could be threatened.

Ngudjolo's family lives in Bunia, in the eastern DR Congo.

His lawyer, Jean-Pierre Kilenda, told AFP that security measures were needed ahead of Ngudjolo's return home. - Sapa-AFP


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