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Witness Tells of Anger Before Bogoro

Trial hears of prelude to raid on Ituri village, in which scores were killed.
By IWPR ICC
A witness in the trial of two alleged Congolese warlords told the International Criminal Court, ICC, this week of how soldiers were assembled before an attack on the village of Bogoro in 2003.



His anonymity preserved through face and voice distortion, Witness 250 was giving evidence for the fourth week in the case against Germain Katanga and Mathieu Ngudjolo, on trial for their alleged participation in the raid on Bogoro in the Ituri region of the Democratic Republic of Congo, DRC, in which roughly 200 people were killed and much of the village burned.



Both defendants are charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity, including pillaging, murder, rape, sexual slavery and enlisting child soldiers during the Ituri conflict.



When David Hooper, representing Katanga, and Jean-Pierre Fofé Djofia Malewa, Ngudjolo’s counsel, cross-examined the witness, the chamber heard details about the organisation of troops leading up to the attack on Bogoro.



Witness 250, who was a member of the National Integrationist Front, FNI, allegedly headed by Ngudjolo, said that he joined a parade of other FNI troops as well as members of the Patriotic Resistance Force, FRPI, the force said to be led by Katanga.



He said the troops were doing exercises and warming up at a site around seven kilometres from Bogoro, as commanders gave them instructions.



When Hooper asked if the witness had sounded horns and beat drums before the attack, he replied, “All of that expressed our anger. Anger of fighting and going into Bogoro.”



The witness told Hooper that he did not see Katanga and Ngudjolo at the beginning of the attack, but about 15 to 30 minutes after Bogoro fell, the two men arrived in the village from separate directions.



The witness said that Katanga and Ngudjolo addressed the troops after they had assembled at a predetermined meeting point after the attack. He said that was how he knew they had authority over the soldiers.



Witness 250 has testified consistently that only soldiers from the Union of Congolese Patriots, UPC, allegedly led by Thomas Lubanga, were present in Bogoro when it was attacked.



However, the indictment states that the FNI and FPRI forces went on an “indiscriminate killing spree” murdering roughly 200 civilians.



The witness told the chamber of an attack on his village of Zumbe in the area of Bedu-Ezekere, which he said was carried out by the UPC prior to Bogoro. He said that the UPC and the Uganda People’s Defence Force, UPDF, filled the area with land mines and massacred women and children.



The witness said that in order to defend themselves from these attacks on the area, the population then took up arms.



The attack on Bogoro, according to the witness, was a measure to protect the region from the UPC. He said that UPC soldiers lived in Bogoro and from there went to Beni, south of Bogoro, and to the Ezekere region.



Witness 250 said, “You had to destroy the force that was there [in Bogoro]…so they couldn’t wipe out the population.”



The witness will continue to give testimony before the chamber next week.



Emily Ponder is an IWPR intern.