Congolese warlord found guilty of war crimes, crimes against humanity

The flag of the Democratic Republic of the Congo
The flag of the Democratic Republic of the Congo Photo credit: Getty

Former Congolese warlord Bosco Ntaganda has been found guilty of 18 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity by judges at the International Criminal Court.

Ntaganda, who was nicknamed the "Terminator," oversaw widespread attacks on civilians and recruited child soldiers.

He was convicted on Monday on all 13 counts of war crimes and five counts of crimes against humanity.

The charges included murder, rape, recruiting children as soldiers and subjecting them to sexual abuse, looting and displacement of civilians.

A total of 2123 victims were heard from by the court since the trial opened in September 2015 in The Hague.

"We can only hope that today's verdict provides some consolation to those affected by the grotesque crimes perpetrated by Ntaganda and paves the way for his victims and their families to finally obtain a measure of justice and reparations," Joan Nyanyuki, Amnesty International's Director for East Africa said in a statement.

Ntaganda had pleaded not guilty to all the charges brought against him. He can appeal the verdict. A sentencing hearing is expected in the coming weeks.

The crimes occurred when Ntaganda headed the Patriotic Forces for the Liberation of Congo (FPLC) - the military wing of the Union of Congolese Patriots political group - in north-eastern Ituri province between 2002 and 2003.

Ntaganda ordered attacks on a rival ethnic group in order to gain control of the province's gold, diamond and oil resources, prosecutors said.

In one incident, women had their stomachs cut open and children had their throats slit, the court heard.

Ntaganda was also involved in the M23 rebel movement, which signed a peace deal with the government in 2013.

He surrendered to the US embassy in the Rwandan capital Kigali in 2013 after having eluded capture for seven years.

Ntaganda's former commander Thomas Lubanga was sentenced to 14 years in 2012 for using child soldiers, becoming the first person to be convicted by the ICC.

Dozens of armed groups remain active in eastern Congo, which has been ravaged by violence since the 1996-2003 Congo wars.

Reuters.

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