DRC 'Terminator' faces ICC judges
26 March 2013, 12:17
The Hague - Congolese war crimes suspect Bosco Ntaganda will
appear before International Criminal Court judges for the first time on Tuesday,
after dramatically turning himself in to face charges ranging from murder and
rape to using child soldiers.
The first ever suspect to voluntarily surrender to the ICC,
Ntaganda is wanted for war crimes and crimes against humanity allegedly
committed a decade ago when he was a warlord in the eastern Democratic Republic
The man known as "The Terminator" was transferred to
The Hague late on Friday after walking into the US embassy in Kigali a week ago
to ask to be sent to the Hague-based court.
When he makes his brief initial appearance at 11:00, judges
will verify Ntaganda's identity, read the alleged crimes and his rights under
the court's founding document, the Rome Statute.
The judges, in the presence of his lawyer, will verify that
Ntaganda can follow the hearings in a language he understands.
Presiding Judge Ekaterina Trendafilova will also set a date
for a hearing to confirm the charges against Ntaganda, who was allegedly
involved in the murder of at least 800 people in villages in the volatile DRC's
At that next hearing, not expected for several months,
prosecutors must convince the court's judges they have enough evidence to take
him to trial.
Set up just over a decade ago, the ICC is the world's only
permanent criminal court to try genocide, crimes against humanity and war
Ruthless human rights abuses
Ntaganda faces seven war crimes counts and three counts of
crimes against humanity: they include murder, rape and using child soldiers in
his rebel army as well as keeping women as sex-slaves between September 2002
and September 2003.
He was taken into custody in Kigali and flown to Rotterdam
airport on Friday, since when he has been held at the ICC's detention unit in
The Hague's seaside suburb of Scheveningen.
Born in 1973, Ntaganda is the fifth African in the ICC's
custody and the court first issued an arrest warrant against him in 2006.
Ntaganda, more than six feet tall, is a charismatic figure.
Until his unexpected appearance in Kigali last week, he had
been "flaunting his impunity like a medal of honour while engaging in
ruthless human rights abuses," as Human Rights Watch's senior Africa
researcher Anneke Van Woudenberg put it.
Once a top commander of the DRC's M23 rebels, Ntaganda is
believed to have crossed into Rwanda at the weekend along with several hundred
fighters after they suffered a humiliating defeat at the hands of a rival rebel
Ntaganda, is believed to have been instrumental in the M23
mutiny from the Congolese army in April last year after the collapse of a peace
deal that had integrated rebels into the regular army.