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Hague Court Sentences Congolese War Criminal To 12 Years

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[May 23, 2014]  AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - Congolese warlord Germain Katanga was sentenced to 12 years in prison on Friday for his part in an attack on a village in northeast Congo more than a decade ago in which the victims were "carved" limb from limb.

Judges at the International Criminal Court said Katanga, who was 24 at the time of the attack, was crucial in arming the ethnic Lendu and Ngiti fighters who carried out the attack on Bogoro village, when some 200 ethnic Hema civilians were killed.

"The attackers literally carved their victims up limb from limb," presiding judge Bruno Cotte said. "The attackers slashed them with machetes and knives as they tried to make their escape."

Katanga becomes only the second person to be sentenced by the court, which was set up 12 years ago to bring to justice those guilty of the most serious international crimes, but which has been criticized for slow justice and accused of singling out Africans for prosecution.

The February 2003 raid was part of a broader conflict in the resource-rich Ituri region of northeast Congo in the early 2000s. Several participants in that conflict have come before the ICC, including warlord Thomas Lubanga, who was sentenced to 14 years for the crime of using child soldiers.

Judges ruled that the seven years Katanga had already spent in the ICC's detention center before and during his trial should count towards his sentence. He could be eligible for early release next year, when he will have served two thirds of his sentence. He can appeal against his conviction.

(Reporting by Thomas Escritt; Editing by Alison Williams)

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