Wanted for War Crimes: 'Terminator' Bosco Ntaganda

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This story is based on a radio interview. Listen to the full interview.

Audio Transcript:

Marco Werman: I'm Marco Werman. This is "The World". We've been following the story of Joseph Kony, the warlord in Central Africa, who's wanted for crimes against humanity. We're also following another warlord, this one in Democratic Republic of Congo. Bosco Ntaganda, like Kony, is wanted by the International Criminal Court for recruiting child soldiers. His nickname is "Terminator. Ntaganda has been involved in rebel activities since at least 2002, but as part of a 2009 peace deal, he and his rebels were assimilated into the Congolese army — until last month. Ntaganda fled with his loyalists to Eastern Congo and now they've taken over two towns there. The BBC's Thomas Hubert is in Bukavu in Eastern Congo. So, Thomas, Ntaganda and his troops fought of the Congolese army, pushed them out of these two towns, and now they're in control. Tell us what you saw of the battle and the aftermath.

Thomas Hubert: I went to Sake on Monday which is really the last government stronghold that is still stable outside Goma, the provincial capital of North Kivu there, and Sake was really the scene of a double flux of people. You could see soldiers either coming down from the hills where they've been beaten on Sunday by Bosco Ntaganda's forces and you could see some other troops coming from Goma, coming to fight Bosco Ntaganda's forces, and you could also see a lot of civilians fleeing the area, thousands of people walking on the road towards Goma, and for some of them towards Rwanda where they've been seeking refuge.

Werman: Were you able to speak to any of the witnesses who fled these towns? Did they tell you about Bosco Ntaganda? Did they see him in action?

Hubert: They didn't see him, but they definitely recognized his soldiers. They are members of the former CNDP Militia. That's a movement that was famous, if we can say, in 2008 under another rebel commander, Laurent Nkunda, who is now under house arrest in Rwanda. And this is pretty much the same configuration which those troops from along ethnic lines who are old members or close to the Tutsi community, and they have been keeping their relationship within the army after a peace deal in 2009 and people who were fleeing the area, they said they had seen them before in 2008, 2007 during a previous similar conflict.

Werman: So where are these Congolese now who fled the fighting in these two villages in Eastern Congo?

Hubert: I saw them along the string of makeshift sites on the road along which there are people sleeping in the open or walking all day, trying to reach the former displaced people's camps which did exist during the successive wars that plagued this region and mostly outside Goma. Those camps were pretty much emptied as stability returned to some degree to the region in the past four years and now they are filling up again.

Werman: Now, Congolese President, Joseph Kabila, said that he would not agree to hand over Bosco Ntaganda to the ICC, the International Criminal Court. I'm wondering is that going to change now with residents of these two towns fleeing and the embarrassment to Congolese troops? Will Kabila let Bosco Ntaganda act with impunity?

Hubert: There was a shift in presidentials of Kabila's discourse a few days a go when he came to Goma and he said that there are a hundred reasons to arrest Bosco Ntaganda now, but he was specifically referring to the indiscipline within the army and maybe also the various mafia networks that have been plaguing the army, all the trading or minerals. So President Kabila said there are a lot of reasons to arrest Bosco Ntaganda and try him in Congo, and it looks like there is now a real will to go after him and to take him out of his stronghold. Now, what happens next is not very clear. Will he be arrested? Will he be killed? Will he arrested and transferred to the ICC? Nobody knows really at this stage.

Werman: The BBC's Thomas Hubert in Bukavu in Eastern Congo. Thank you very much for joining us, Thomas.

Hubert: Thank you.

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