|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
PRESS CONFERENCE ON ARREST, TRANSFER OF ALLEGED WAR CRIMINAL FROM DEMOCRATIC
REPUBLIC OF CONGO, MATHIEU NGUDJOLO CHUI, TO INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURT
Arrested yesterday by Congolese authorities, Mathieu Ngudjolo Chui, alleged war criminal in connection with crimes against humanity in Ituri, was transferred today to the International Criminal Court in ‘s-Gravenhage, Netherlands, the Court’s Registrar, Bruno Cathala, told correspondents today at Headquarters.
At the press conference in New York, Mr. Cathala said that Mathieu Ngudjolo, a national of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, was an alleged former leader of the National Integrationist Front (FNI) and currently a Colonel in the Congolese national army (FARDC). A sealed arrest warrant against him had been issued by the Court’s Pre-Trial Chamber I on 6 July 2007, and that warrant was unsealed today. Mr. Ngudjolo was the third Congolese detainee arrested, following the arrests of Thomas Lubanga Dyilo and Germain Katanga.
Mr. Ngudjolo was alleged to have committed crimes against humanity and war crimes, as set out in articles VII and VIII of the Rome Statute, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo since July 2002. His arrest and surrender had been made possible through the cooperation of the Congolese authorities, and Mr. Cathala thanked the Government for its constant support. It was the first time that the Congolese authorities, at the Court’s request, had physically arrested somebody.
The International Criminal Court is an independent, permanent court that tries persons accused of the most serious crimes of international concern, namely genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. The so-called “Court of last resort” is based on the Rome Statute, which is an international treaty that entered into force in 2002 and is joined by 105 countries. The Court will not act if a case is investigated or prosecuted by a national judicial system unless the national proceedings are not genuine, and it only tries those accused of the gravest crimes.
Describing yesterday’s events, Mr. Cathala said that Mr. Ngudjolo had left Kinshasha at 11:40 p.m. local time on a Belgium plane, accompanied by six security officers, a representative of the Court, and a doctor. The plane had landed in Eindhoven, Netherlands, at 11:30 a.m. local time. Mr. Ngudjolo arrived at the Court’s detention centre in ‘s-Gravenhage at 1:45 p.m. Upon his arrival, he underwent a medical examination, after which he was briefed of his rights under the Rome Statute and of the nature of the arrest warrant’s counts. He had also been visited by the Registrar Officers of the Defence Support Section, who had explained to him in detail his right to a fair trial and had given him a list of Councillors. The procedure of appointment of Counsel for the initial Court appearance and for the rest of the proceedings had also been explained to him.
Mr. Ngudjolo’s initial Court appearance will take place on Monday, 11 February, at 2 p.m., Mr. Cathala explained further. During that hearing, the Chamber would satisfy itself that Mr. Ngudjolo had been properly informed of the crimes he was alleged to have committed and of his rights, including the right to apply for interim release, pending trial. The Chamber would then determine the date for confirmation of the charges. Once those charges were confirmed, the Judges would then determine the trial date.
Updating correspondents on other cases before the Court, he said that, in Darfur, Sudan, there were still two indictments that had not been executed by the Sudanese Government, namely against Ahmad Muhammad Harun and Ali Muhammad Ali Abd-Al-Rahman, or Ali Kushayb. Those people should be before the Court as soon as possible. There were 20 counts of crimes against humanity and 22 counts of war crimes against Ahmad Harun, and 22 counts of crimes against humanity and 28 counts of war crimes pending against Ali Kushayb.
As for Uganda, he said there were still four arrest warrants not yet implemented, namely against: Joseph Kony; Vincent Otti; Okot Odhiambo; and Dominic Ongwen. There were reports that Vincent Otti was dead, but the Court had not received proof of that. Everybody knew that the others were in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The Court was looking for the support of the various Governments and the United Nations to arrest those people. It was not a good example that those people were not yet in the custody of the Court, as the arrest warrants had been issued on 13 October 2005. “They have to be judged,” he said.
He noted that, on 22 May 2007, the Court’s Prosecutor had decided to open an investigation in the Central African Republic. There was a field office with investigators in Mange, and the Prosecutor was currently there to explain his activities to civil society and victims.
Asked about the eight months between the issuance of the sealed arrest warrant and the arrest, Mr. Cathala said the Court was a judicial institution and did not negotiate with Governments. Every Government had to implement an arrest warrant, without negotiations. However, the Court had its own assessment of the situation and would try to execute arrest warrants in the shortest possible time, depending on acquired information, but there was sometimes a time gap.
Concerning other leaders alleged to have been involved in the attacks involving Mr. Ngudjolo, including Peter Karim, he said that, according to the Court’s Deputy Prosecutor, the first phase of the investigation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo focusing on the “horrific crimes” committed by armed group leaders in Ituri since 2002 had been completed with the arrest of Mr. Ngudjolo Chui. The Prosecutor would now move on to the third case there.
Addressing a question about the immunity provisions in the “Goma Agreement” regarding hostilities in the Kivu area, he said that the Agreement excluded crimes against humanity, genocide and war crimes from the amnesty. The Court’s Prosecutor this morning had said that there were credible reports of serious crimes committed even today, including “unspeakable sexual crimes” committed by, among others, the forces of Laurent Nkunda.
He had not received a request from the Orange Democratic Movement in Kenya seeking indictment of that Government, he replied to another question, but he had read about it in the media.
Asked about reports that the United States, in the “Djuba talks” between Uganda and the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) was pushing for the “LRA” indictees to turn themselves over to the Ugandan Government for processing under the national system, he said that the Court was not involved in the Djuba talks. Any country could say anything, but there were arrest warrants from the Court, and that was not under any Government’s control.
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