[JURIST] Hearings to confirm war crimes charges [press release] against two former Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) militia leaders began at the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] Friday. Germain Katanga [BBC report; ICC materials] is accused [JURIST report] of using child soldiers and orchestrating violence against women; former Nationalist and Integrationist Front leader Mathieu Ngudjolo Chui [ICC materials; JURIST report] is accused of planning and carrying out an attack against the village of Bogoro in 2003, allegedly killing some 200 persons. Prosecutors argued that the trial would help victims to "move forward" with their lives in the DRC's violence-plagued Ituri district [HRW backgrounder], where many of the alleged war crimes took place.
A scheduled May hearing to confirm the charges against Chui and Katanga was delayed [decision, PDF; press release] in April to allow the defense more time to prepare. Another accused war criminal, Thomas Lubanga [ICC materials; BBC profile], was taken into ICC custody in March 2006, becoming the first DRC war crimes defendant to appear before the ICC [JURIST reports]. Lubanga is charged [JURIST report] with enlisting child soldiers in the Ituri district.