Victims disappointed as prosecution and defense drop Katanga appeals

Germain Katanga during his trial at the ICC. © AFP

Germain Katanga during his trial at the ICC. © AFP

Both the prosecution and defense have withdrawn their appeals of the conviction of Congolese militia leader Germain Katanga. The prosecutor’s decision has been met with disappointment by lawyer’s representing victims in the case.

Earlier this year Katanga was found guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed during an attack on the village of Bogoro in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in 2003.

However, the ruling was appealed by both sides.

Both sides drop appeals
Then last week, Katanga dropped his appeal of the judgment and issued a declaration accepting the findings made against him and expressing his “sincere regret” to all those who suffered because of his conduct, including the Bogoro victims.

ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda also decided to withdraw her appeal due to Katanga’s:

  • Withdrawal of his appeal against the conviction;
  • Decision not to appeal the 12-year sentence;
  • Acceptance of the conclusions reached in his conviction judgment as to his role and conduct, and the sentencing decision; and
  • Expression of sincere regret to the victims.

Victims’ representatives express disappointment
The legal representative for victims (LRV) stressed that the principle group of victims participating in the case do not support the prosecutor’s decision to withdraw the appeals on the acquittal of Katanga on rape and sexual offences charges, and on the sentencing.

The LRV highlighted that neither he nor his clients had agreed to the withdrawal or been informed in advance of the possibility.

He explained that the victims feel the sentence is not proportionate and are not convinced of the credibility of Katanga’s expression of sincere regret, especially considering that this apology was made after the sentencing and within the context of an abandonment of all appeals.

Meanwhile, the LRV for child soldiers expressed deep disappointment with the prosecutor’s decision and his absolute disagreement with the idea that he was in any way involved in or satisfied with, the deal that was made between the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) and the defense.

Prosecution says decision will help healing process
In response the LRV for the principle group of victims, the prosecutor stated that the decision was taken with sensitivity to the interests of victims and in conformity with all statutory obligations and prosecutorial discretion.

In response the LRV for child soldiers, the prosecutor stated that the OTP firmly rejected suggestions or claims that it misrepresented facts or made inaccurate factual assertions, and reiterated that the decision to discontinue the appeal took into account all relevant factors.

The prosecutor also stated that both she and her Office hope that the final resolution of this case will help assist in reconciliation efforts and contribute to the healing process for the victims.

Now that both parties have withdrawn their appeals, Trial Chamber II will consider the possibility of reparations for victims of the crimes for which Katanga was convicted.

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