The trial of the former Congolese war lord, Germain Katanga opened today in Kinshasa.
Germain Katanga and his five co-defendants are charged with “ war crimes, crimes against humanity and participation in a guerilla movement “ in Ituri, north-eastern province of the DRC near the border with Uganda.
Katanga was arrested in 2007, and sentenced slapped with a 12-year jail term in 2014 by the International Criminal Court for his role on the 2003 village attacks, which claimed 200 lives.
“He remains involved in other equally serious issues in the Democratic Republic of Congo,” said Tambwe Mwamba, Congolese Minister of Justice.
Nicknamed Simba, the lion in Swahili, he is particularly indicted for his alleged role in the killing of nine UN peacekeepers in Ituri in 2005.
Germain Katanga was transferred to Kinshasa last December in order to finish his sentence in his country, the DRC.
Katanga entered the court earlier today, accompanied by other officers and non-commissioned members of his militia Patriotic Resistance Forces in Ituri (FRPI ) , smiling and very relaxed, warmly welcomed some officers present in the courtroom and exchanged with his lawyers.
The DRC has been devastated by two wars between 1996 and 2003 and its Eastern part is still being ravaged by armed conflicts fueled by ethnic and land disputes , competition for control of mineral resources and rivalries between regional powers .
Countless atrocities were committed during these years by all parties in conflict , and almost all of them go unpunished .
Since 2014, Congolese authorities have nevertheless taken a number of measures to try to end impunity, regularly denounced by the UN and human rights activists.