x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

ICC clears Congolese warlord of war crimes

Today's acquittal of Mathieu Ngudjolo is only the second verdict in the International Criminal Court's 10-year history and the first time it has cleared a suspect.

THE HAGUE // The International Criminal Court has cleared 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.

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

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

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

Mr Ngudjolo, wearing a suit and tie, stood up and showed no emotion as Presiding Judge Bruno Cotte acquitted him.

Thomas Lubanga, also a Congolese warlord, was jailed for 14 years for war crimes in July.