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Prosecutor v. Mathieu Ngudjolo Chui

Relevant Sections:

Art. 7(1)(g); Art. 8(2)(b)(xii); Art. 8(2)(c)(ii); Art. 8(2)(e)(vi); Art. 8(2)(c)(ii)


▪ Rape as a crime against humanity and war crime

▪ Sexual slavery as a crime against humanity and as a war crime


▪ This case was joined with that against Katanga prior to the Confirmation of Charges hearing and subsequently severed prior to the Trial Judgment.

▪ Charges including sexual slavery, rape, use of children below 15 years of age to actively participate in hostilities were confirmed by the Pre Trial Chamber I.

▪ Trial Chamber I on Ndugjolo’s role or function in the attacks stated that there was not evidence to prove beyond reasonable doubt that Mathieu Ngudjolo was the commander-in-chief of the Lendu combatants from Bedu-Ezekere who were present in Bogoro on 24 February 2003. Most witness accounts attesting to his rank were hearsay and therefore must be taken with some circumspection.


▪ Since his rank or position as commander of the Lendu combatants could not be proved, the Chamber did not progress to the question of existence of a common plan.

Regarding the use of child soldiers, the Trial Chamber stated that ‘presence of children in combatant groups in Ituri was, at the material time, a widespread phenomenon’ and they were even present in Bogoro attack but there was not sufficient evidence to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the accused had himself trained/ used as personal bodyguards or for any other purpose children under the age of fifteen.

▪ While the Chamber affirmed that the events as alleged, including the crimes, had taken place, it concluded that, in the absence of sufficient evidence, it could not find beyond reasonable doubt that Ngudjolo was criminally responsible as a direct/ independent co-perpetrator.[The credibility of the three main witnesses for the prosecution were put to question].

▪ Ngudjolo was unanimously acquitted of all charges. Appeals’ Chamber confirmed this acquittal in 2015.

Notable Points:

▪ This was the first case in which charges of sexual and gender-based crimes, specifically rape and sexual slavery, were confirmed. The Ngudjolo case was also the first ICC case in which the accused was acquitted of all charges during the trial proceedings.


▪ Unanimously acquitted and released in 2012.

Read the full judgment here.

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