The Hague, February 21, 2011 (FH) - Victims participating in the trial of Mathieu Ngudjolo and Germain Katanga before the International Criminal Court (ICC) started to testify on Monday.

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Germain Katanga, commander of the Force de résistance patriotique en Ituri (Patriotic Resistance Force in Ituri, FRPI), and Mathieu Ngudjolo Chui, former leader of the Front des nationalistes et intégrationnistes, (National Integrationist Front, FNI), are accused of three crimes against humanity and seven war crimes, notably for their alleged role in the attack of Bogoro on February 24, 2003 where over 200 people were killed.

The Katanga case is the second trial held by the ICC concerning events in Ituri. The court has been on recess since the close of the prosecution case last year, after 24 witnesses were called to the bar.

It now reconvenes to hear testimony from victims participating in the proceedings. Judges have recognized 345 persons as victims. Their interests are represented by two legal representatives who have called to the stand two victims to testify.

The direct involvement of victims as civil parties is a relatively new process; it has not been used in the international tribunals established prior to the ICC. Submissions from representatives of the civil parties will be followed by the opening of the defense case.

Investigation on the crimes committed in DRC started in June 2004. Katanga was arrested and transferred to The Hague on October 17, 2007 and Mathieu Ngudjolo was arrested on February 6, 2008 and transferred to The Hague the following day. Their trial opened on November 24, 2009.


© Hirondelle News Agency