ICC Acquitted Defendant Ngudjolo Deported to the DRC

Mathieu Ngudjolo

Mathieu Ngudjolo Chui ©ANP

Mathieu Ngudjolo Chui, the first defendant to be acquitted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) has been deported to Kinshasa, capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), on Monday 11 May. Media confirmed that Ngudjolo arrived back in the DRC on Monday evening where he was escorted by five European police officers before leaving the Kinshasa airport surrounded by friends and family.

In a secret video, shared online last week, Ngudjolo spoke out about death threats and his concerns about being killed or receiving the death penalty when expelled to the DRC. He fears his live is in danger in the DRC as he has made incriminating statements about the current leaders of the country during his trial at the ICC.

Human Rights Watch also expressed concern about Ngudjolo’s return and said that “we and others will be looking to the Congolese authorities to ensure Mathieu Ngudjolo’s safety and security once he is back in Congo”.

The 44-year-old former leader of the Nationalist Integrationlist Front (FNI) militia was acquitted of the charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity by Trial Chamber II of the ICC on 18 December 2012, who ordered his immediate release. Straight after his acquittal he applied for asylum in the Netherlands which was denied by the Dutch authorities, but he was allowed to stay in the Netherlands pending his appeal.

On 27 February 2015, the ICC Appeal Chamber confirmed the decision of the Trial Chamber acquitting Ngudjolo Chui of charges of crimes against humanity, putting a final end to the trial that had started in 2009. After the ruling, the Dutch authorities immediately arrested Ngudjolo and transferred him to Schiphol airport to return him to the DRC that same day. His lawyer filed a new asylum claim at the last minute, and Ngudjolo was escorted off the aircraft. The new claim was rejected a few days later.

Unconfirmed sources say that after his arrival in Kinshasa yesterday, Ngudjolo subsequently fled to an unknown destination. According to the president of the Congolese Association for access to justice (l’Association congolaise pour l’accès à la justice), who is also Ngudjolo’s lawyer, he has currently no information about the whereabouts of his client.

ICC Congo Witness on Hunger Strike

International Criminal Court

The International Criminal Court

Last week, a Congolese witness detained in the International Criminal Court (ICC)’s detention unit for over three years has decided to go on hunger strike.

Floribert Ndjabu is one of three witnesses who sought asylum in the Netherlands after giving testimony in 2011 in the cases of Mathieu Ngudjolo Chui and Germain Katanga.

Ndjabu, Pierre Celestin Mbodina and Manda Charif were sent from a prison in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) where they were being held pending trial for alleged war crimes.

During their testimonies, they implicated Joseph Kabila as having a hand in the massacres for which Ngudjolo and Katanga were accused.

Fearing prosecution after their testimonies if they were sent back to the DRC, they sought asylum in the Netherlands.

However, three years later, their case is still pending before the Dutch Supreme Court, which is to begin hearings on June 6.

“Floribert is desperate because he’s been held at the detention unit for three years as an asylum seeker and the Netherlands refuses to take him […] He’s afraid that the process will go on much longer and that he’ll be in detention for many more years” said Ndjabu’s lawyer.

He added that one of the other witnesses was also thinking of going on hunger strike.

In January, the ICC’s Appeals Chamber ordered the three men to be sent home, pressing the Dutch authorities for a decision on their asylum bid.