THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — The International Criminal Court's prosecutor appealed Wednesday against the release of a man acquitted of involvement in the massacre of some 200 villagers in eastern Congo.
Judges at the world's first permanent war crimes tribunal on Tuesday cleared Mathieu Ngudjolo of charges including murder, rape and pillage and ordered his immediate release. Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said in a court filing she plans to appeal the acquittals and she launched a final bid to keep Ngudjolo behind bars while the appeal is heard.
Her written appeal said that Ngudjolo has, in the past, escaped from a prison in Congo where he was being held on war crimes charges. "There is thus a clear and present danger that if Mr. Ngudjolo were released ... the Court would not be able to regain custody of him," the appeal said.
It added that no country Ngudjolo could travel to after his release has given a guarantee that it would return him to the court if his acquittals are reversed on appeal. Ngudjolo was still in the court's detention unit Wednesday as authorities look for a country willing to accept him if he is released.
Prosecutors had accused him of commanding militia fighters who raped and hacked to death villagers in Bogoro, eastern Congo, in February 2003. Judges found him not guilty in only the second judgment in the court's 10-year history, saying that three key prosecution witnesses provided unreliable testimony.