ICC delays warlord pre-trial hearing
18 June 2013, 18:07
The Hague - A crucial preliminary hearing of evidence
against an African warlord known as "The Terminator" has been pushed
back to give prosecutors more time to prepare their case, the International
Criminal Court announced on Tuesday.
The start of the so-called confirmation of charges hearing
against Bosco Ntaganda has been put back to 10 February next year. It had been
due to start on 26 September.
The hearing is intended to let judges weigh if there is
enough evidence to support the prosecution's charges and merit putting Ntaganda
Rwandan-born Ntaganda was first indicted in 2006 on charges
of recruiting and using child soldiers in Congo's eastern province of Ituri.
Last July prosecutors added charges of murder, rape, sexual slavery,
persecution and pillaging, in 2002-2003.
Prosecutors allege he was the deputy chief of staff of rebel
group the Patriotic Forces for the Liberation of Democratic Republic of Congo.
Ntaganda, who has not yet entered a plea, faces a maximum sentence of life
imprisonment if he is sent for trial and convicted.
He turned himself in in March after nearly seven years as a
fugitive from justice and is in custody in the court's detention block.
A judge said in the decision that the length of time
Ntaganda was a fugitive meant prosecution teams should be given leeway in
preparing their case.
"Where the suspect is evading justice for many years,
it is neither possible nor reasonable to impose on the prosecutor a permanent
stand-by availability of the teams for years," the written ruling said.