, THE HAGUE, Dec 18 – The International Criminal Court acquitted Congolese ex-militia boss Mathieu Ngudjolo Chui of crimes against humanity on Tuesday, saying prosecutors failed to prove him guilty of the murder of 200 people in a 2003 attack on a village using child soldiers.
“The chamber acquits Mathieu Ngudjolo of all the crimes against him. The chamber orders… the immediate release of Mr Ngudjolo,” presiding Judge Bruno Cotte said.
“The chamber has come to its decision unanimously,” he said, adding that witness testimony had been “too contradictory and too hazy”.
“After receiving all the evidence, the chamber hereby concludes that the prosecution did not prove beyond all reasonable doubt that Mathieu Ngudjolo committed the various crimes as alleged.”
Ngudjolo was once one of the most important militia leaders in northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo’s mineral-rich Ituri province.
Now 42, Ngudjolo faced seven war crimes charges including using child soldiers to fight in his militia and three crimes against humanity charges for the bloody massacre of 200 villagers at Bogoro village on February 24, 2003.
It is the first time the Hague-based ICC, the world’s only permanent war crimes tribunal, acquitted a suspect.