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Congo militia leader sentenced to 12 years for war crimes

[JURIST] The International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] on Friday sentenced [press release] Congolese militia leader Germain Katanga [case materials; JURIST news archive] to 12 years in prison for war crimes. Katanga, the alleged commander of the Patriotic Resistance Forces in Ituri, an armed militia group from the Ituri region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), was convicted [JURIST report] in March on four counts of war crimes and one count of crimes against humanity. Katanga's guilty verdict stems from the militia leader's involvement in providing weapons to rebel soldiers responsible for a 2003 massacre in the village of Bogoro in the Eastern DRC. Trial prosecutors said that more than 200 people were killed in the rampage, which was carried out with guns and machetes. Katanga has appealed his conviction [JURIST report], and prosecutors have appealed his acquittal on related charges of rape, sexual slavery and using child soldiers.

Congolese authorities arrested Katanga in 2005, accusing him of ordering rebel fighters in his command to wipe out the village of Bogoro. He was transferred [JURIST report] to the detention center at The Hague in 2007 where he has remained since. Hearings to confirm Katanga's war crimes charges commenced [JURIST report] in 2008 and the pre-trial chamber of the ICC quickly found sufficient evidence [JURIST report] to proceed with the prosecution. In September 2009 the appeals chamber of the ICC upheld [JURIST report] the admissibility of the case after Katanga argued that his charges should be dropped and the trial commenced in November 2009. In July 2010 the ICC appeals chamber denied [JURIST report] Katanga's request for a stay of proceedings and a declaration of unlawful detention by the DRC. In September 2012 a Dutch court granted [JURIST report] asylum in the Netherlands to three Congolese witnesses who testified against Katanga.

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