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8 - The Trial of Germain Katanga and Mathieu Ngudjolo

from The Congo Trials

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  21 September 2020

Richard Gaskins
Affiliation:
Brandeis University, Massachusetts
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Summary

The joint trial of Germain Katanga and Mathieu Ngudjolo fell apart soon after closing arguments. Faced with insufficient evidence for convicting the pair as joint “masterminds” of a single ethnic-motivated attack against civilians, the Trial Chamber acquitted Ngudjolo but undertook to reconfigure the trial with a new theory about Katanga’s mode of liability. The military structure posited by the Prosecutor (taken from NGO reports) came under careful scrutiny, as it appeared that neither Katanga nor Ngudjolo matched the profile of the mastermind commander. Acting in striking independence of the Prosecution, two of the three trial judges found Katanga guilty under an improvised theory of criminal responsibility, based in part on questions put to Katanga during his testimony by the Presiding Judge. Although Katanga’s conviction and twelve-year sentence were not appealed, there was a powerful dissent by the third trial judge, clarifying some central controversies of the case. More controversy surrounded a later appeal of the Ngudjolo acquittal, which was upheld by a split judicial panel.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2020

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