The International Criminal Court (ICC) today sentenced former militia leader Germain Katanga to 12 years in prison for war crimes committed in relation to a 2003 attack in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
Mr. Katanga, a senior commander from the group known as the Force de Résistance Patriotique en Ituri (FRPI), was convicted in March on four counts of war crimes and one count of crimes against humanity, namely murder, attacking a civilian population, destruction of property and pillaging, relating to the 24 February 2003 attack on the village of Bogoro, in Ituri district.
At a public hearing today, Presiding Judge Bruno Cotte explained that when determining the sentence, the ICC’s Trial Chamber had to consider “the legitimate need for truth and justice voiced by the victims and their family members, while seeking also to ensure that the sentence acts as a deterrent to potential perpetrators of similar crimes,” according to a news release.
With regard to the gravity of the crimes, the Chamber stressed that the crimes committed on 24 February 2003 in Bogoro were “committed with particular cruelty, resulted in numerous civilian victims, and that the scars of the fighting can still be seen today.”
As for Mr. Katanga’s degree of participation and intent, the Chamber considered that he had made a significant contribution to the commission of the crimes of attacking a civilian population, murder, pillage and destruction of property.
“Nonetheless, the Chamber considered, in determining the sentence, that account had to be taken of Germain Katanga’s conduct after the events and, in particular, his active participation in the demobilisation process implemented in Ituri for the benefit of the child soldiers and, to a certain extent, of his personal situation.”
According to the UN peacekeeping mission in DRC (MONUSCO), Mr. Katanga’s group is still active in the Ituri district and continues to represent a threat to civilians.
“The decision taken by the ICC in the Katanga case sends another warning to armed groups, including the FRPI, to immediately cease attacks against the civilian population and lay down their arms,” said Martin Kobler, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative and head of MONUSCO, as he welcomed today’s sentencing.