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Congo militia leader charged with war crimes makes first ICC appearance

[JURIST] Former Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) warlord Germain Katanga [Trial Watch profile; ICC materials] made an anticipated appearance [press release; JURIST report] in the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] at The Hague Monday. Katanga, only the second criminal defendant to appear before the tribunal so far, is accused of ordering fighters under his command to "wipe out" [ICC OTP press release] the northeast Congolese village of Bogoro in 2003, where hundreds of civilians were killed and women were forced into sexual slavery. Katanga is charged with three counts of crimes against humanity and six counts of war crimes for his role in the attack. Before the ICC Monday, Katanga alleged that he has been detained without charge since 2005, after being arrested for his possible role in the killing of nine United Nations workers [NY Times report]. AP has more.

Union of Patriotic Congolese militia leader Thomas Lubanga [Trial Watch backgrounder; JURIST news archive] became the first war crimes defendant to appear before the ICC after he was taken into ICC custody [JURIST reports] in March last year to face charges of widespread human rights abuses in eastern Congo’s Ituri district [HRW backgrounder]. Lubanga is also suspected of ordering the 2005 killing of the nine UN peacekeepers and of filling the ranks of his militia with child soldiers [BBC report]. The ICC is considering moving Lubanga's trial back to the DRC [JURIST report] to highlight it more for the country's citizens.

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