25 September 2009 The International Criminal Court (ICC) can try Congolese militia commander Germain Katanga on war crimes charges, its appeal chamber ruled today, rejecting a defence claim that the case be dismissed because he is also under investigation by authorities in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
Mr. Katanga had challenged the admissibility of the case before the ICC earlier this year, but the appeals chamber upheld an earlier decision by the trial chamber that the case should stand.
This is the first time that the Court has heard a challenge to admissibility based on the complementarity principle, which requires the ICC 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.
Announcing the appeal chamber’s decision today, Judge Daniel David Ntanda Nsereko said that, among other matters, the court noted that there were no formal proceedings against Mr. Katanga in the DRC at the time he launched his appeal about admissibility.
“On the contrary, the DRC has made it clear that it wished for him to be prosecuted before the ICC,” the judge said.
A senior commander of the group known as the Force de Résistance Patriotique en Ituri (FRPI), Mr. Katanga was arrested and transferred to the ICC in October 2007.
He faces three counts of crimes against humanity and six counts of war crimes over his alleged involvement in 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 ICC 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.
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