participated in the trial and sentencing proceedings in the Bosco Ntaganda case
have been authorized to participate in his appeal against the 30-year sentence
handed to him. Ntaganda has asked judges to reduce his prison term to 23 years,
and judges have authorized the 2,129 victims who participated in the trial
proceedings to present their views and concerns on the issues raised on appeal.
Under Article 68(3)
of the court’s founding law, the Rome Statute, where the personal interests of
the victims are affected, the court shall permit their views and concerns to be
presented and considered at stages of the proceedings determined to be
appropriate by the court and in a manner that is not prejudicial to or
inconsistent with the rights of the accused and a fair and impartial trial.
Appeals Chamber determined on February 13 that victims who
participated in the sentencing phase of the trial may participate in the appeal
proceedings against the sentencing decision because their personal interests
are affected by the appeal in the same way as during the sentencing
July, ICC judges found Ntaganda guilty on all 18 charges he was tried for, and
his defense is appealing the entire conviction decision. However, the prosecution has also
raised two grounds of appeal alleging errors in the conviction decision with
respect to Trial Chamber VI’s findings regarding events at the Mongbwalu
hospital and the church in Sayo. The trial chamber did not convict Ntaganda
over crimes committed at these localities.
Ntaganda argues in the appeal against conviction, among
other reasons, that the conviction was invalid because one of the judges of the
chamber that convicted him was unfit to serve as an ICC judge.
in the appeal against the sentence, which he terms manifestly
excessive and disproportionate, Ntaganda’s lawyers say that trial judges
repeatedly failed to consider Ntaganda’s degree of concrete participation in
certain crimes. Instead, they argue, the judges often repeated the basis of
Ntaganda’s liability without further considering his degree of participation in
the different crimes.
For instance, the
defense faults trial judges for failing to concretely assess Ntaganda’s
“limited degree of participation” in the five sexual violence crimes he was
convicted for. The defense avers that a concrete assessment of personal
culpability required judges to go beyond the finding of liability to ensure
that the punishment is proportionate to Ntaganda’s individual responsibility.
In the latest ruling,
the Appeals Chamber ruled that legal representatives of victims may file
observations presenting the victims’ views and concerns with respect to the
issues on appeal insofar as their personal interests are affected. The
observations will be filed within 30 days of the notification of the
prosecution’s response to Ntaganda’s appeal brief. The 2,132 victims authorized
to participate in the trial are divided into two groups: 283 former child
soldiers and the rest are victims of UPC/FPLC attacks. Each group has its legal
month, judges directed the Registry of the ICC to map the potential new
beneficiaries of reparations in the Ntaganda case. According to judges,
this assessment will facilitate the fair and
expeditious conduct of the reparations proceedings.
article was first published by International Justice Monitor.