Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.


Congo militia leader pleads 'Not guilty' as ICC trial opens

02 September 2015, 14:05

The Hague - Congolese warlord Bosco Ntaganda pleaded "Not guilty" on Wednesday to crimes including the rape of child soldiers in a campaign of pillage and murder in northeast Congo's Ituri province in the early 2000s.

The Rwandan-born Ntaganda is accused by prosecutors at the International Criminal Court (ICC) of conspiring to expand the power of the Hema ethnic group and seize the province's vast oil, diamond and gold wealth for himself.

He faces 18 charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity in all, including murder, rape, pillage and persecution, under a doctrine of international law that allows him to be charged personally with offences committed by forces under his command.

One alleged co-conspirator is Thomas Lubanga, who is serving a 14-year prison sentence after becoming the court's first convicted defendant in 2012.

Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda told judges that fighters from Ntaganda's Union of Congolese Patriots (UPC) had lured ethnic Lendus occupying the land they wanted to purported peace talks in order to capture and kill them.

"Bosco Ntaganda was the UPC's highest commander, in charge of operations and organisation," she told the court, adding that he had allowed the slaughter to go unpunished.

One witness found the bodies of his own wife and children among victims of the slaughter in a banana field. Their throats had been slit and his infant daughter's skull was staved in.

They were just five of an estimated 5,000 civilians killed during the 2002-03 campaign. Bensouda said Ntaganda had praised the field commander responsible as "a real man".


Bensouda said female child soldiers had been kept as sex slaves, "objects" freely available to other soldiers in Ntaganda's militia.

Ntaganda, a tall, slight man with a pencil moustache, was known as "The Terminator" during his time commanding the UPC and a related guerilla army, the Patriotic Forces for the Liberation of Congo (FPLC).

He rose to tell the court: "I plead 'Not guilty' to the charges."

The trial is the first test of a new team assembled by prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, who has promised more rigorous prosecution cases after a series of high-profile failures.

Ntaganda was indicted in 2006 but remained on the run for years, fighting in conflicts on and around Congo's border with Rwanda. In 2013, fearing for his life, he handed himself in at the U.S. embassy in the Rwandan capital Kigali.

The ICC, set up in 2002 to prosecute the most serious international crimes, has so far convicted only little-known warlords, all from the Ituri conflicts. Its case against Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta collapsed after witness withdrawals undermined an already brittle case.

Many of its highest-profile indictees, from Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir to Saif al-Islam, son of late Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, remain at large, their governments refusing to hand them over.

An inquiry into the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which opened this year, is set to provide an even more severe test of the court's ability to enforce its will in defiance of governments.

For the latest on national news, politics, sport, entertainment and more follow us on Twitter and like our Facebook page!

- Reuters


Read News24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Read more from our Users

Submitted by
Shakila Alivitsa
4 ways to handle your cheating ma...

He is cheating. How do you handle him?

Submitted by
Shakila Alivitsa
Why do men choose second wives?

Why do men choose to have second wives?

Submitted by
Eugene Odanga
Wizkid set for twin Kenyan shows

Wizkid is back in Kenya. For two shows.

Submitted by
Eugene Odanga
Udada women's festival begins in ...

The Udada women's festival has arrived in Nairobi.

Submitted by
Uhuru pardons 2747 death row conv...

President Uhuru Kenyatta has pardoned a number of death row convicts, sending them to life sentences instead. Read more...

Submitted by
Eugene Odanga
WATCH: Kaka Sungura arrested in t...

Was Kaka Sungura arrested in town?