ICC judges to rule on ex-Congolese militia leader's appeal against war crimes conviction

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FILE PHOTO: Sentencing in 2019 of convicted Congolese war criminal Bosco Ntaganda in The Hague

THE HAGUE (Reuters) - Appeals judges at the International Criminal Court will on Tuesday rule on an attempt by former Congolese militia leader Bosco Ntaganda to overturn his conviction and 30-year-sentence for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Ntaganda's lawyers asked for his acquittal or retrial on appeal, saying the original trial was riddled with legal errors.

The prosecution also appealed, saying the former militia leader should be convicted for several attacks the lower court acquitted him of.

Ntaganda was sentenced in 2019 for murder, rape, using child soldiers and other atrocities committed when he was military chief of the Union of Congolese Patriots (UPC) militia in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo in 2002-2003.

During the conflict, Ntaganda’s UPC, dominated by the Hema clan, targeted rival Lendu people for expulsion from the mineral-rich Ituri region.

Hundreds of civilians were killed and many thousands were forced to flee in the sprawling central African country of about 90 million where many live in extreme poverty.

The ICC is an international court set up in 2002 to prosecute war crimes and crimes against humanity when member states are unable or unwilling to do so.

In March, judges at the ICC ordered reparations of $30 million for his victims If he is acquitted, the reparations will also be scrapped.

The appeals judgment will be read out at 3:00 p.m. (1300 GMT)

(Reporting by Stephanie van den Berg, Editing by Timothy Heritage)