The International Criminal Court ruled today that the war crime trial of former Congo militia leader Germain Katanga must continue, rejecting his appeal to dismiss the case as unlawful.
Katanga, 32, went on trial last November on charges he directed an attack on a Congolese village in 2003 that killed more than 200 people. He has pleaded not guilty, reports Reuters.
Katanga, in ICC custody since 2007, filed a motion in 2009 to stay the proceedings against him, arguing that he had been unlawfully detained in Congo prior to surrendering to the court.
The judges rejected it on procedural grounds, saying it was filed too late.
“The Appeals Chamber found that the decision of the Trial Chamber did not infringe Mr Katanga’s right to a fair hearing and that he had been given adequate notice and opportunity to raise the issue of his alleged unlawful pre-surrender arrest and detention,” the court said in a statement.
Two judges felt that the motion should have been considered on its merits, the court said, and that the trial judges chose speedy proceedings at the expense of Katanga’s rights.
The attack came near the end of a five-year war that cost more than 4 million lives, as rival groups fought for the resource-rich country’s gold and diamonds.
It was the second major ruling in one of the ICC’s Congo trials in less than a week.
Last Thursday, the judges hearing the case of accused warlord Thomas Lubanga called a halt to the trial, saying the prosecution was not cooperating with an order to turn over certain information.