Bogoro, l’œuvre-enquête de Franck Leibovici et Julien Seroussi. #2 The Katanga/Ngudjolo trial: a case study

Investigation by Virginie Bobin

Summary

On 24 November 2009, militia leader Germain Katanga appeared before the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, which accused him and Mathieu Ngudjolo, another alleged militia leader, of war crimes and crimes against humanity, committed on 24 February 2003 during an attack on the village of Bogoro, in the Ituri region of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The Katanga/Ngudjolo trial, one of the very first cases to be heard by this young court, began six years after the events that reportedly caused the deaths of at least 200 villagers, imprisonment, mutilation and rape. The DRC is indeed the scene of a civil war that is not over. It is marked by a constellation of conflicts that evolve according to shifting alliances, involving no less than eight neighbouring countries, not to mention the commercial interests of private companies. Eleven years after the Bogoro attack, most of the documentary and testimonial evidence submitted by the prosecutor’s office to support the charges against Katanga and Ngudjolo had collapsed. Ngudjolo was acquitted in 2012, while Katanga, in March 2014, was not convicted as the main perpetrator of the crimes for which he was accused but only as an accomplice, and sentenced to 12 years in prison.

[ 1 ]

Franck Leibovici, low intensity conflicts – un mini-opéra pour non musiciens, ed.mf, 2019

[ 2 ]

This required the court to recapture the video recordings, as the in-house software For The Record, did not allow for any intervention in the files (an endless process, requiring the court to carry out months and months of work).

[ 3 ]

These two courts have played a pioneering role in “the establishment of a credible international criminal justice system, producing a substantial body of jurisprudence on genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes as well as forms of individual and superior responsibility”, by defending equity and impartiality, “the principle that guilt should be individualised, protecting entire communities from being labelled as ‘collectively responsible’”, with the aim “to deter future crimes and render justice to thousands of victims and their families, thus contributing to a lasting peace in former Yugoslavia”.

Sources: http://unictr.irmct.org/en/tribunal and http://www.icty.org/en/about (Consulted in October 2018)

[ 5 ]

Historian Stéphane Audoin-Rouzeau recounts how destabilizing this experience can be for the researcher who is not familiar with his or her knowledge being received in this way. He recounts the “ordeal” of a sociologist called to testify during a trial at the ICTY, humiliated on the stand for having “failed to provide a sufficiently convincing theatrical experience” (Stéphane Audoin-Rouzeau, “Chercheurs dans le prétoire”, Grief n°3, 2016, p. 177).

[ 6 ]

English, French, Arabic, Chinese, Russian, Spanish.

The prosecution’s case was based in part on the recruitment of child soldiers. In order to comply with the Rome Statute definition of crimes, the prosecutor therefore simply had to prove that the assailants were under 15 years old at the time of the attack. But the defence had no difficulty in showing that these…

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