1 June 2009 The International Criminal Court (ICC) began public hearings today to consider challenges by defense lawyers to the admissibility of the case against alleged Congolese militia commander Germain Katanga.
This is the first time that the Court, which is based in The Hague, Netherlands, will take up a challenge to admissibility based on the complementarity principle, according to a news release.
The Counsel of the accused maintain that legal proceedings were brought against him – partly for the same crimes – before the courts in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
The principle of complementarity requires the Court not to investigate or prosecute individuals unless the State concerned is genuinely unable to or has no intention to carry out the investigation or prosecution. The principle gives precedence to national systems.
A senior commander from the group known as the Force de Résistance Patriotique en Ituri (FRPI), Mr. Katanga was arrested and transferred to the Court in October 2007.
He faces three counts of crimes against humanity and six counts of war crimes for a deadly assault on the village of Bogoro, in the province of Ituri. Hundreds of people were killed and many women forced into sexual slavery in that February 2003 attack.
In March 2008, the Court decided to join his case and that of accused Congolese militia leader Mathieu Ngudjolo Chui of the Nationalist Integrationist Front (FNI) – who is alleged to have played a key role in designing and carrying out the Bogoro attack – into one single case of war crimes and crimes against humanity.
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