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DRC doesn't rule out sending Ntaganda to ICC

15 May 2012, 12:55

Kinshasa - The Democratic Republic of Congo said on Monday that it did not exclude transferring rebel leader Jean Bosco Ntaganda to the ICC, where he is wanted for alleged war crimes committed in 2006.

"It is not excluded but it depends on the decision taken by our judges," government spokesperson Lambert Mende told AFP.

"He will be judged according to our laws, and it is our justice that will determine if he should be extradited or not."

Ntaganda, dubbed the "Terminator", has been sought for years by the International Criminal Court accused of using child soldiers.

But Kinshasa has always refused to give him up, countering that Ntaganda had integrated into the national army along with his CNDP rebels under a 2009 peace deal, and that his cooperation was needed to stabilise the war-ravaged east.

However, the tone changed when a group of several hundred National Congress for the Defence of the People (CNDP) loyalists defected in April and began attacking army troops in Nord-Kivu.

DR Congo President Joseph Kabila consequently warned that any officers, be it Ntaganda or anyone else who commit further acts of disobedience, would be arrested and tried.

New charges

"For all others who have been extradited, it is always Congolese justice that had given a favourable opinion, and we had executed the transfer," Mende said, referring to Thomas Lubanga, a former militia chief who was found guilty in March of using child soldiers in a bloody conflict.

Mende said Kinshasa was also hunting Ntaganda over the recent clashes in Nord-Kivu between army troops and CNDP mutineers.

"We have our own grievances against the general Ntaganda, who was associated at one moment with the peace process and who has commited an act of felony, compounded by several blood crimes against both our army and civilians.

"We intend to catch him and try him in our country," he added.

Ntaganda has fled with his men close to the border with Rwanda, according to the army.

Earlier on Monday, ICC chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo announced that he wanted to add new charges against Ntaganda, including crimes against humanity for murder, ethnic persecution, rape and sexual slavery.

He also sought war crimes charges for "intentional attacks" against civilians that led to murder, rape, sexual slavery and pillaging.



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