Bosco Ntaganda, DR Congo's 'Terminator' warlord, in ICC custody


A picture taken on January 11, 2009 shows the leader of the rebels and chief of staff of the National Congress for the Defence of the People (CNDP) General Ntaganda Bosco. The International Criminal Court sought new war crimes charges against him on May 14, 2012.



Bosco "The Terminator" Ntaganda, a rebel leader wanted for war crimes in the Democratic Republic of Congo, is now in the custody of the International Criminal Court.

Ntaganda "surrendered himself voluntarily" and is on his way to the ICC's detention center in The Hague, the court said in a statement today.

It is the first time any suspect has handed himself in to the ICC.

Chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda called it "a good day for victims in the DRC and for international justice."

The development follows Ntaganda's surprise decision to surrender to the US embassy in Rwanda earlier this week. Neither the US nor Rwanda had an obligation to hand him over, but he specifically requested that he be transferred to the ICC, American authorities said.

The court has charged him with seven counts of war crimes and three counts of crimes against humanity, including the conscription of child soldiers, murder, rape and sexual slavery, allegedly committed in the northeast DRC between 2002 and 2003.

The long-time fugitive is suspected of enlisting child soldiers as recently as last year. According to evidence compiled by Human Rights Watch, between April and May 2012 he forcibly recruited "at least 149 boys and young men" into his militia to fight government forces in eastern DRC.

Ntaganda has been fighting more than 20 years, sometimes as a rebel, sometimes as a soldier, in the DRC and in Rwanda. He and his troops were integrated into the Congolese army as part of a peace deal in 2009, where human rights activists say they continued to commit abuses against civilians.

He deserted in April 2012 and was followed by hundreds of his supporters, sparking a mutiny that saw rebels take over swathes of eastern DRC and forced an estimated 800,000 people from their homes.

The ICC said it would set a date for his first court appearance shortly.

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