- The international Human rights organisation says a joint trial of Germain Katanga and Mathieu Ngudjolo Chui, for war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Ituri district in eastern Congo, offers victims the chance to see accountability for atrocities committed. The duo trial will start on 24 November 2009 in The Hague.
Human Rights Watch said with Mr Katanga and Mr Ngudjolo in the dock, victims will finally learn the truth behind the crimes allegedly perpetrated by the two former Congolese rebel leaders.
"The trial should remind rights abusers in Ituri and elsewhere that they too may face justice one day," Counsel with Human Rights Watch's International Justice Programme Param-Preet Singh said.
Mr Katanga is the former chief of staff of the Patriotic Force of Resistance in Ituri (FPRI), an ethnic Ngiti-based militia group. Mr Ngudjolo is the former chief of staff of the Front for National Integration (FNI), an ethnic Lendu-based militia allied to Mr Katanga's group.
Each man is charged with seven counts of war crimes and three counts of crimes against humanity for using child soldiers, sexual slavery, rape, and murder in an ethnically targeted military operation in early 2003.
"The ICC prosecutor should ensure that justice is done in Ituri by focusing on senior officials in Congo, Rwanda and Uganda who armed and supported the Ituri-based militias," Mr Singh said.
Human Rights Watch said Mr Katanga and Mr Ngudjolo trial also draws attention to Mr Bosco Ntaganda, the remaining Congolese suspect wanted by the ICC.
He is accused of enlisting and conscripting children under age 15 and of using them as active participants in hostilities in Ituri between July 2002 and December 2003, when he was military chief of staff of the Union of Congolese Patriots (UPC), a largely Hema-based militia.
His co-accused, Thomas Lubanga, is on trial for the same crimes in The Hague. In addition to using child soldiers, Mr Lubanga's group has been involved in ethnic massacres, torture, and rape during the Ituri conflict.
According to the Orgsanisation, Mr Ntaganda remains in eastern Congo, where he continues to commit serious abuses. In November 2008, he commanded an attack on the town of Kiwanja in North Kivu province where an estimated 150 civilians were killed, the rights group said.
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