[JURIST] The International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] on Tuesday acquitted [judgment, PDF; press release] Congolese militia leader Mathieu Ngudjolo Chui on charges of rape, murder and pillage. Ngudjolo was accused of commanding fighters in a 2003 rebel attack on Bogoro, a strategic village in the mineral-rich Ituri region in eastern Congo. Some 200 people, including children, were raped and killed in the attack, carried out with machetes. The judges ruled the prosecution had not proved beyond a reasonable doubt that Ngudjolo was responsible for the crimes committed, and ordered his immediate release. Rights groups including Amnesty International [advocacy website] expressed disappointment [press release] with the decision. The prosecution said it intends to launch an appeal.
Ngudjolo was arrested [JURIST report] and transferred to the ICC in February 2008. The ICC confirmed charges [JURIST report] against Ngudjolo and another Congolese rebel leader the following September. His trial began [JURIST report] in November 2009. Ngudjolo’s acquittal is only the second verdict in the court’s history and its first acquittal. The ICC convicted [JURIST report] Congolese militia leader Thomas Lubanga Dyilo [case materials] in March and sentenced [JURIST report] him to 14 years in prison. He has since appealed [JURIST report].