ICC rejects call to halt trial of DRCongo militia chief

12th July 2010, Comments 0 comments

The International Criminal Court rejected Monday an appeal by former Congolese militiaman Germain Katanga to have his detention declared unlawful and his war crimes trial stopped.

Judge Daniel Nsereko said the appeals chamber had found no error in a court decision in November that dismissed on procedural grounds an earlier bid by Katanga to halt the case.

The 32-year-old is on trial for war crimes and crimes against humanity in a conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo's northeastern Ituri region said to have cost tens of thousands of lives.

He and coaccused Mathieu Ngudjolo Chui have pleaded not guilty.

They are accused of murder and rape in an attack on the village of Bogoro on February 23, 2003 during which more than 200 civilians were killed.

Non-governmental bodies say that inter-ethnic and militia violence in Ituri is about control of the area's rich mineral resources and has claimed 60,000 lives since 1999.

Katanga claims he was unlawfully arrested by DRC authorities in 2005. He was surrendered by the DR Congo government to the ICC in October 2007.

The trial is the ICC's first for murder since opening as the world's first permanent and independent war crimes tribunal in 2002.

© 2010 AFP

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