International Criminal Court judges yesterday convicted a Congolese rebel chief nicknamed “Terminator” of war crimes including horrific massacres of civilians, sexual enslavement and recruitment of child soldiers.
Former warlord Bosco Ntaganda was found guilty of 18 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity, including murder, directing attacks against civilians, displacing civilians, rape, sexual slavery and enlisting children under the age of 15.
Ntaganda, 45, who was born in Rwanda, will be sentenced after the court hears submissions from victims. Judges can give a life sentence. He is only the fourth person to be convicted of war crimes by the ICC.
“Mr Ntaganda rallied the troops prior to battle, he gave direct orders to the troops during operations, and he debriefed them afterwards,” head judge Robert Fremr declared. Ntaganda known for his pencil moustache and a penchant for fine dining proclaimed his innocence throughout the trial, insisting that he was a “soldier not a criminal” and that the “Terminator” nickname did not apply to him.
Ntaganda becomes the first person to be convicted of sexual slavery by the tribunal in The Hague, in a badly-needed boost for prosecutors after a string of high-profile failures.
He stood expressionless as judges passed sentence on a man they called a “key leader” in atrocities in eastern DR Congo’s Ituri province in 2002-3, issuing “direct orders to target and kill civilians”.