Ex-warlord Katanga back on trial for war crimes in DR Congo

Congolese warlord Germain Katanga, pictured in February 2016, has been ordered to pay some reparations for "transgenerational harm" by the ICC, but five children were denied compensation (AFP Photo/PAPY MULONGO) (AFP/File)

Kinshasa (AFP) - Former Congolese warlord Germain Katanga, a convicted war criminal, was in back on trial in his home country Friday before a top military court on charges of crimes against humanity.

Katanga, 38, who was sentenced to 12 years in jail by the Hague-based International Criminal Court two years ago, finished serving a reduced sentence in January in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Instead of being freed however, he remained behind bars as Kinshasa said it wanted to also try him for "other crimes" committed in the DR Congo's mineral-rich but restive northeast Ituri province.

That trial, which was interrupted in February, resumed Friday after the ICC last month gave the green light to proceed with the domestic case against Katanga.

Appearing in court along with six co-accused, Katanga is wanted for "war crimes, crimes against humanity and participation in an insurrectional movement" in Ituri near the Ugandan border, where some 60,000 people died in fighting between 1999 and 2007.

"We are not prosecuting general Katanga on the basis of political motivations (but) for serious crimes committed in Ituri" between 2002 and 2006, which are other than those he was convicted of by the ICC, said Major-General Timothee Mukuntu as proceedings got under way Friday.

Katanga "knew when deciding to return to the country... he was running the risk of being prosecuted," Mukuntu added.

The defence however on Friday charged that there were "irregularities" in the legal case against Katanga, saying the ICC's approval should have come before proceedings began.

The high military court promised to rule on whether or not to maintain the case against Katanga at the next hearing, without setting a date.

Katanga's conviction by the ICC in 2014 was for complicity in an attack on an Ituri village that left some 200 dead in 2003.