LA HAYE, Pays-Bas, 18 décembre 2012/African Press Organization (APO)/ —
Situation: The Democratic Republic of the Congo
Case: The Prosecutor v. Mathieu Ngudjolo Chui
Today, 18 December 2012, Trial Chamber II of the International Criminal Court (ICC) (http://www.icc-cpi.int) acquitted Mathieu Ngudjolo Chui of the charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity. The decision was taken unanimously by the Chamber composed of Presiding Judge Bruno Cotte (France), Judge Fatoumata Dembele Diarra (Mali) and Christine Van Den Wyngaert (Belgium). Judge Van Den Wyngaert filed a concurring opinion.
The Chamber ordered the Registrar to take the necessary measures to release Mathieu Ngudjolo Chui. However, as the Prosecutor so requested, it is now up to the Chamber to make a decision on the detention of Mathieu Ngudjolo Chui pending appeal proceedings. A hearing is scheduled today 18 December at 13:30 to discuss those matters.
Mathieu Ngudjolo Chui, a Congolese national, was charged with three counts of crimes against humanity and seven counts of war crimes allegedly committed in the context of an armed conflict in Ituri, during the attack against the Bogoro village on 24 February 2003. Today, Presiding Judge Cotte read a summary of the judgment in public. He explained that in view of the evidence before the Chamber as well as the testimonies of witnesses called by the Prosecution, the Defence, the Legal Representatives of Victims and the Chamber itself, it has not been proven beyond reasonable doubt that Mathieu Ngudjolo Chui was the commander of the Lendu combatants from Bedu-Ezekere during the attack against the Bogoro village on 24 February 2003. As a result, the Chamber is of the view that the Prosecution has not proved beyond reasonable doubt that Mathieu Ngudjolo Chui was responsible, within the meaning of article 25-3 of the Rome Statute, for the crimes allegedly committed during the attack. Hence, the judges decided to acquit the accused.
The Chamber emphasised, however, that the approach it adopted does not mean that, in its opinion, no crimes were committed in Bogoro on 24 February 2012, nor does it question what the people of this community have suffered on that day. The Chamber also emphasised that the fact of deciding that an accused is not guilty does not necessarily mean that the Chamber finds him innocent. Such a decision simply demonstrates that, given the standard of proof, the evidence presented to support his guilt has not allowed the Chamber to form a conviction “beyond reasonable doubt”.
The Chamber also ordered the Registry of the Court to take all necessary measures to continue to protect witnesses in accordance with article 68 of the Statute.
Germain Katanga and Mathieu Ngudjolo Chui were transferred to the ICC detention centre in The Hague (Netherlands) on 17 October 2007 and 7 February 2008, respectively. Their cases were joined on 10 March 2008 and their trial started on 24 November 2009. Closing statements from trial parties and participants were heard from 15 to 23 May 2012. On 21 November 2012, Trial Chamber II decided to sever the charges against Mathieu Ngudjolo Chui and Germain Katanga. The verdict in the case against Germain Katanga will be delivered at a later stage.
The ICC is the first permanent, treaty-based, international criminal court established to help end impunity for the perpetrators of the most serious crimes of concern to the international community, namely war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide.
Distributed by the African Press Organization on behalf of the International Criminal Court.
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