ICC Appeals Chamber confirms conviction and sentencing decision in the case Prosecutor v. Bosco Ntaganda

Photo credit ICC-CPI
Matteo Tonella, Program Associate, CICC Secretariat
Regions: 
Africa

On 30 March 2021, the Appeals Chamber (AC) of the International Criminal Court (ICC) confirmed by majority Trial Chamber IV’s decision of 8 July 2019 which found Mr. Bosco Ntaganda guilty of 18 counts of war crimes committed in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2002-2003.

Read the summary of the judgement delivered in court  

Watch the delivery of the summary of the judgment

On 8 July 2019, Trial Chamber (TC) VI found Mr. Ntaganda guilty of 18 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in DRC in 2002-2003. Mr. Ntaganda appealed the Trial Chamber decision on 15 different grounds. 

In his appeals, the defendant argued that his right to a fair trial had been violated and challenged the Trial Chamber’s finding that he was criminally responsible for attacks directed against a civilian population pursuant to an organizational policy of the UPC/FLPC. Mr. Ntaganda further argued that TC IV erred in ascertaining that children under the age of 15 were used as escorts and enlisted in the FPC/FLPC to participate in hostilities, and in finding that incidents of rape and sexual enslavement occurred and that Mr. Ntaganda knew about them. Finally, Mr. Ntaganda challenged the Chamber’s finding in relation to the ascertainment of his criminal responsibility based on the concept of “indirect co-perpetration”.

The ICC Prosecutor appealed the conviction decision based on the the interpretation of the term 'attack' in article 8(2)(e)(iv) of the Rome Statute. The prosecutor argued that additional events should have been considered by the Trial Chamber in relation to the charges of attacking protected objects as a war crime, for which Mr. Ntaganda was found responsible. 

The Appeals Chamber rejected by majority the appeals submitted by Mr. Ntaganda and the Prosecutor against the conviction decision. Judges BossaMorrison and Hofmański appended a separate opinion on the Prosecutor’s appeal. Judge Morrison and Judge Ibáñez appended a separate opinion on Mr. Nataganda’s appeal. Judge Eboe-Osuji appended a partly concurring opinion. 

The Appeals Chamber further rejected the appeals of Mr. Ntaganda against the sentencing decision of 7 November 2019 and confirmed the 30-years imprisonment sentence. The AC rejected the arguments presented by Mr. Ntaganda who challenged the Trial Chamber’s assessment of his degree of participation and knowledge of the crimes committed as well as its assessment of mitigating and aggravating circumstance.

 

"It is my hope that today's decision & sentence of 30 years of imprisonment that was upheld will bring a measure of closure to victims & affected communities in Ituri, seeing that justice has ultimately been served at the ICC for their suffering" affirmed the ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda.

Reactions from Civil Society

In commenting the 30 years imprisonment sentence, the heaviest handed down so far by the ICC, Professor Eugène Bakama Bope, President of the Club des amis du droit du Congo (CAD) said “we welcome the decision of the Appeals Chamber that takes into account the suffering of victims in Ituri and in particular of victims of sexual and gender-based violence”. "Nevertheless, the CAD remains concerned about the need to obtain justice that the victims of the crimes perpetrated in eastern Congo continue to demand, in particular the victims of crimes committed by Ntaganda during the rebellion of the National Congress for the Defense of the People (CNDP) as well as by the March 23 Movement (M23)."

Congolese warlord to pay USD 30 million to victims of his crimes, written by Susan Kendi, Journalists for Justice.

Today’s decision is a milestone for international justice and a long-sought victory for survivors in Ituri, DRC, who have waited nearly two decades for Ntaganda to be held to account for terrorizing the country,” said Karen Naimer, director of programs at Physicians for Human Rights (PHR). “The ICC is a complex but nevertheless crucial international institution for meting out justice for the most serious crimes, especially where states have referred a matter to the court because they are unwilling or unable to pursue a justice process nationally, as the DRC did in this case.”

Appeals Judges Confirm Ntaganda’s ICC Conviction and 30-Year Sentence, written by Wairagala Wakabi on International Justice Monitor.

 

 

Procedural background

The Democratic Republic of Congo ratified the ICC Rome Statute on 11 April 2002. 

On 3 March 2004, the Government of the DRC referred to the Court the situation in its territory. The ICC Prosecutor initiated an investigation in the situation on 21 June 2004. 

On 22 August 2016, the ICC Pre Trail Chamber issued an arrest warrant against Mr. Ntaganda. Originally issued under seal, the arrest warrant was unsealed by Pre Trial Chamber on 28 April 2008. A second warrant of arrest was issued on 13 July 2012 by Pre Trial Chamber II.

On 22 March 2013, Mr. Ntaganda voluntarily surrendered to the ICC's custody. Mr Ntaganda initial appearance before the Court took place on 26 March 2013.

On 9 June 2014, Pre-Trial Chamber II unanimously confirmed the charges of crimes against humanity and war crimes and committed Mr. Ntaganda for trial before the ICC.

The charges included recruitment of children under the age of 15 to military training camps and their participation in hostilities in Libi, Mbau, Largu, Lipri, Bogoro, Bunia Djugu and Mongwalu while he was leading the Forces Patriotiques pour la Libération du Congo (FPLC) training camp and field commanders.

On 2 September 2015, the trial opened. Closing arguments were delivered on 28 to 30 August 2018. 

On 8 July 2019, Trial Chamber VI found Mr. Ntaganda guilty of 18 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in DRC in 2002-2003

On 7 November 2019, Trial Chamber VI sentenced Bosco Ntaganda to a total of 30 years of imprisonment. The time already spent in detention will be deducted from the final sentence. 

On 8 March 2021, Trial Chamber VI delivered its Order on Reparations for victims in the Ntaganda case. 

 

Check the ICC factsheet on the case Prosecutor v. Bosco Ntaganda