Bogoro trial opens at ICC

25 November 2009 by Thijs Bouwknegt

The International Criminal Court (ICC) opened its second trial in The Hague this week. On the stand are the Congolese former militiamen Germain Katanga and Mathieu Ngudjolo Chui who are accused of orchestrating the massacre of about 200 civilians in the village of Bogoro, in the Ituri province of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). 

Ituri is one of the bloodiest areas of the DRC. Since 1999, more than 60,000 civilians have been slaughtered in a conflict rooted in ethnic rivalries, primarily between the Lendu and the Hema. In the battle for Ituri’s mineral riches, a myriad of armed groups - mostly composed of children - have been implicated in massacres, torture and rape.

Thomas Lubanga Dyilo is already in the ICC dock charged with using child soldiers in his Hema militia, the Union of Congolese Patriots. Starting on Tuesday, two of his former rivals are facing the same court.

Katanga and Ngudjolo respectively led the Nationalist and Integrationist Front and the Patriotic Resistance Force, both fighting for the Lendu. They are now on trial for their alleged involvement in the Bogoro massacre.

Bogoro massacre
On the morning of February 24th 2003, their militia entered the village and attacked the mainly Hema population. Survivors were imprisoned in a room filled with corpses, while women and young girls were forced to become sex-slaves. Both men deny any involvement in the crimes.

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