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Ntaganda case: Trial opening statements will be held at the seat of the ICC, in the Netherlands


Situation: Democratic Republic of the Congo
Case: The Prosecutor v. Bosco Ntaganda

On 15 June 2015, the Presidency of the International Criminal Court (ICC) decided that the opening statements in the trial in the case of The Prosecutor v. Bosco Ntaganda shall take place at the seat of the Court, in The Hague (the Netherlands). The ICC Presidency decision was made in consultation with Trial Chamber VI which had, on 19 March 2015, recommended to the ICC Presidency that the opening statements in this trial be held in Bunia, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

Trial Chamber VI had indicated its intention of bringing the Court's judicial work closer to the most affected communities, and had found that it was in the interests of justice for the opening statements to be held in Bunia. Subsequently, the ICC Presidency consulted with the DRC authorities and with the Trial Chamber. The Presidency also received observations from the Prosecutor, the Defence and the Legal Representatives of Victims, as well as reports from the ICC's Registry.

The ICC Presidency, composed for this decision of Judge Silvia Fernández de Gurmendi (President), Judge Joyce Aluoch (First Vice-President), and Judge Christine Van Den Wyngaert, noted that holding the proceedings in Bunia may, in principle, contribute to a better perception of the Court and bring the proceedings closer to the affected communities. The Presidency also noted the excellent co-operation and willingness of both the DRC and the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the DRC (MONUSCO) to facilitate the holding of the proceedings in Bunia.

In deciding whether it was desirable and in the interests of justice to sit in Bunia, the Presidency considered a number of factors. Most importantly, it considered concerns over the consequences of the in situ hearings on the witnesses and victims' safety and well-being, as well as the security of the local communities involved. Furthermore, the Presidency considered the concerns expressed by the victims that the accused's return would remind them of the suffering and trauma. The Presidency also considered the impact of the logistics required for the hearings, which may have resulted in the affected communities having limited access to them, given their length and nature. Finally, the Presidency noted the financial impact of the costs of hosting the opening statements in Bunia, which were estimated to be more than €600,000. The ICC Presidency concluded that the potential benefits of holding proceedings in Bunia are, in view of the Presidency, outweighed by these risks.

Trial Chamber VI will issue, in due course, a decision setting the exact date for the opening of the trial concerning Mr Ntaganda, which has been planned for the 2nd or 3rd week of July.

Public redacted version of Decision on the recommendation to the Presidency on holding part of the trial in the State concerned

Background: Bosco Ntaganda, former alleged Deputy Chief of the General Staff of the Force Patriotiques pour la Libération du Congo [Patriotic Force for the Liberation of Congo] (FPLC), is accused of 13 counts of war crimes (murder and attempted murder; attacking civilians; rape; sexual slavery of civilians; pillaging; displacement of civilians; attacking protected objects; destroying the enemy's property; and rape, sexual slavery, enlistment and conscription of child soldiers under the age of fifteen years and using them to participate actively in hostilities) and five crimes against humanity (murder and attempted murder; rape; sexual slavery; persecution; forcible transfer of population) allegedly committed in Ituri, DRC, in 2002-2003. Mr Ntaganda is in the Court's custody.

For more information on this case, click here

For further information, please contact Fadi El Abdallah, Spokesperson and Head of Public Affairs Unit, International Criminal Court, by telephone at: +31 (0)70 515-9152 or +31 (0)6 46448938 or by e-mail at: [email protected].

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