9 February 2014

Congo-Kinshasa: Ex-Warlord Faces War Crimes Charges At International Court

Former Congolese general Bosco Ntaganda appears Monday at the International Criminal Court in The Hague, where he is charged with murder, rape and the use of child soldiers during 15 years as a rebel fighter in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.

Rwandan-born Ntaganda faces seven counts of war crimes and three counts of crimes against humanity, which cover alleged atrocities in the northeastern Ituri region in 2002 and 2003. Most recently, he was considered a key leader of the rebel M23 group, which launched a major offensive against the Congolese government last year.

Ntaganda, thought to be in his early 40s, surrendered last year to the U.S. embassy in the Rwandan capital, Kigali. He denied the charges at an initial court hearing in March 2013.

At Monday's hearing, prosecutors are expected to argue that evidence against Ntaganda is strong enough to warrant a full trial.

Nicknamed "the terminator," Ntaganda became a general in the Congolese army in 2009 as part of a peace deal that integrated his rebel group into the military. But he and many of his soldiers deserted in 2012 to form the M23 rebel group, which was later routed by a rival faction.

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