Belfast Telegraph

Friday 22 August 2014

Congo leader cleared of war crimes

The acquittal of Mathieu Ngudjolo is the first time the International Criminal Court has cleared a suspect

The International Criminal Court has acquitted a Congolese militia leader of all charges of leading fighters who destroyed a strategic village in eastern Congo in 2003, hacking to death and raping some 200 people including women and children.

The acquittal of Mathieu Ngudjolo is only the second verdict in the Netherlands court's 10-year history and the first time it has cleared a suspect.

Prosecutor Fatou Besnouda immediately indicated that she would appeal and ask for Ngudjolo to be kept in custody.

Ngudjolo's acquittal comes as parts of eastern Democratic Republic of Congo remain virtual war zones even today, with rebel fighters believed to be backed by Rwanda locked in conflict with government forces.

Ngudjolo, wearing a suit and tie, stood up and showed no emotion as Presiding Judge Bruno Cotte acquitted him at the court in The Hague.

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