Congo-Kinshasa: Congolese Warlord Now in Custody of International Criminal Court

The Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) has welcomed the news of the transfer of Congolese warlord Bosco Ntaganda to The Hague, where he faces charges for a range of alleged war crimes, including rape, murder and the recruitment of children.

Mr. Ntaganda has been indicted by the Court on seven counts of war crimes and three counts of crimes against humanity allegedly committed in Ituri province in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) between 2002 and 2003.

He is en route to the ICC detention centre in The Hague in the Netherlands from Kigali, Rwanda, where he turned himself in to the United States Embassy on Monday.

"This is a good day for victims in the DRC and for international justice," ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said in a news release. "Today those who are alleged to have long suffered at the hands of Bosco Ntaganda can look forward to the future and the prospect of justice taking its course."

On arrival at the Court, Mr. Ntaganda will receive a medical visit and will appear, as soon as possible, before the judges in the presence of a defence lawyer. The date of the initial appearance hearing will be announced soon, the ICC said in a news release.

The Court noted that this is the first time that a suspect has surrendered voluntarily to its custody, and expressed its gratitude for the support and cooperation of the Dutch and US authorities, both in Rwanda and in the Netherlands.

Ms. Bensouda also thanked all actors "who have been working for so long to make this day possible." At the same time, she added that, "as we welcome progress in one case, others also subject to ICC warrants in the region remain at large."

She urged all States now to renew and refocus their efforts to secure the arrest of Sylvestre Mudacumura, the head of the Rwandan rebel group known as the FDLR, and all others subject to ICC warrants for alleged crimes committed in DRC who are still at large.

The ICC is the first permanent international court set up to prosecute individuals for genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and the crime of aggression.

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