'Terminator' found guilty of DR Congo war crimes

By Mutala Yakubu
Bosco Ntaganda was convicted of leading a brutal campaign in eastern DR Congo
Bosco Ntaganda was convicted of leading a brutal campaign in eastern DR Congo

A former Congolese rebel leader has been found guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Fighters loyal to Bosco Ntaganda disembowelled babies and smashed their heads in, said judges at the International Criminal Court (ICC).

In all, Ntaganda, nicknamed "Terminator", was convicted on 18 counts, including murder, rape, sexual slavery and using child soldiers.

He becomes the first person convicted of sexual slavery by the ICC.

Who is Bosco Ntaganda?
Born in 1973, grew up in Rwanda
Fled to DR Congo as a teenager after attacks on fellow ethnic Tutsis
At 17, he began his fighting days - alternating between being a rebel and a soldier, in both Rwanda and DR Congo
2002-3: Militia leader in Congolese region of Ituri
2006: Indicted by the ICC for allegedly recruiting child soldiers in Ituri
In charge of troops who carried out 2008 Kiwanji massacre of 150 people
2009: Integrated into Congolese national army and made a general
2012: Defects from the army, sparking a new rebellion which forces 800,000 from their homes
2013: Surrenders to US embassy in Kigali, after splits in his rebel group
What did he do?
A three-judge bench found Ntaganda guilty on all 18 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in the mineral-rich north-eastern region of Ituri between 2002 and 2003.

Ntaganda was a "key leader" who gave orders to "target and kill civilians" judge Robert Fremr said in the ruling.

Prosecutors had said Ntaganda was key in planning and running operations for the Union of Congolese Patriots (UCP) rebels and its military wing, the Patriotic Forces for the Liberation of Congo (FPLC).

The armed group conducted attacks against people perceived not to belong to the Hema ethnic group, the ICC found.

In one attack, fighters killed 49 captured people in a banana field behind a village using "sticks and batons as well as knives and machetes".

"Men, women and children and babies were found in the field. Some bodies were found naked, some had hands tied up, some had their heads crushed. Several bodies were disembowelled or otherwise mutilated," Judge Fremr said.

Violence in the region has killed more than 60,000 people in the region since 1999, as militias battle each other for control of scarce mineral resources, rights groups say.
The judges ruled that Ntaganda had personally killed a Catholic priest, while the fighters he commanded ran rampage in the region.

The crimes took place when Ntaganda served as the deputy chief of general staff of Thomas Lubanga - who was the leader of the UCP. He was the first person to be convicted by the ICC in 2012 and sentenced to 14 years.

Ntaganda has 30 days to appeal.

All of those convicted so far by the ICC are from Africa. A fifth person, Jean-Pierre Bemba, the former vice-president of DR Congo, was initially found guilty of war crimes before being cleared on appeal last year.


Source: BBC