The Hague, May 22, 2012 (FH) - Mathieu Ngudjolo’s defence Tuesday requested  the International Criminal Court (ICC) to acquit the accused, claiming that “he was neither the intellectual nor the actual author” of the crimes committed in Bogoro”.

1 minApproximate reading time

Mathieu Ngudjolo is accused of crimes against humanity and war crimes, notably for his alleged role in the attack of Bogoro on February 24, 2003 where over 200 people were killed.

According to the Prosecution, Ngudjolo was the leader of a militia (Front des nationalistes et intégrationnistes-FNI) active in Ituri. However, the defence claims he was not involved in any political activity. A nurse by profession, Ngudjolo said he was delivering a baby in a nearby village the day the attack was perpetrated.

“The attack of Bogoro was planned by the Congolese President himself”,  Jean-Pierre Kilenda asserted. “He was willing to maintain the integrity of the national territory against UPC’s secessionist attempts”, the defence lawyer added, stressing that  “he acted in conformity with his country’s constitution”.

UPC (Union des patriotes congolais), a Congolese militia successively backed by Uganda and Rwanda, was in control of Bogoro the day of the attack.

The defence team also disputed prosecution’s allegations that Bogoro’s attack was motivated by ethnic hatred. According to Jean-Pierre Fofé, “the conflict was not inter-ethnic. UPC military bases in Bogoro were the target”.

The lawyer wondered why people like Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni had not been heard by the Prosecution. “Why does the prosecution keep going at a scapegoat like Ngudjolo?”, he asked.

Hearings will resume on Wednesday with final statements of the two accused.