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Justice Years After Disemboweled Bodies Found in Field

ICC finds Bosco Ntaganda guilty of war crimes committed in the Democratic Republic of Congo
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 8, 2019 10:00 AM CDT
The ICC Has Had Just 3 Big Convictions. 'Terminator' Is No. 4
Bosco Ntaganda sits in the courtroom of the ICC during his trial at the Hague in the Netherlands on Monday.   (Eva Plevier/Pool via AP)

(Newser) – The International Criminal Court came into being in 2002. Seventeen years later, it notched its fourth conviction. Former Congolese rebel leader Bosco Ntaganda, known as the "Terminator," was convicted on Monday of war crimes and crimes against humanity, among them, sexual slavery—the first time the ICC has seen a conviction on that charge, reports the BBC. The charges related to two attacks that occurred in 2002 and 2003 in a mineral-rich region of the Democratic Republic of Congo, roughly a decade before the warlord turned himself in at the US embassy in his native Rwanda.

  • His crimes: The 46-year-old was convicted on all 18 counts: 13 counts of war crimes and five counts of crimes against humanity, reports the Guardian, which describes him as a "key militia leader" with the rebel group the Patriotic Forces for the Liberation of Congo, which the court said went after those who weren't part of the Hema ethnic group. The court found him responsible for mass murder, the rape and sexual slavery of young girls, the recruitment of child soldiers, and the death of a Roman Catholic priest at Ntaganda's own hand.
  • His path to the ICC: As the AP writes, Ntaganda was indicted in 2006 "and became a symbol of impunity in Africa, even serving as a general in Congo's army before turning himself in in 2013." The Guardian reports he's the first suspect to voluntarily give himself up to the ICC; he reportedly did so because his own safety was threatened, as fighters in his rebel group, the M23, turned on him.

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  • The trial: The trial opened in September 2015; closing arguments took place in August 2018. Some 102 people testified, including Ntaganda himself. His lawyers pushed the argument that Ntaganda, who was himself recruited as a child soldier, was also a victim. Among those who took the stand: a woman whose throat was slit by Ntaganda's men.
  • A standout quote: From Presiding Judge Robert Fremr, in reference to a massacre of 49 people that took place in a banana field under Ntaganda's direction: "The bodies of those killed—men, women, and children and babies—were found in the banana field over the next days. Some bodies were found naked, some had their hands tied up, and some had their heads crushed. Several bodies were disemboweled or otherwise mutilated."
  • His sentence: Ntaganda will be sentenced in a yet-to-be-scheduled hearing, though he has 30 days to appeal. CNN reports he faces a maximum of 30 years, but the court has the power to impose a life sentence.
  • The ICC's track record: The AP calls the convictions "a victory" for ICC prosecutors, who've more recently been handed defeats, as with the acquittals of former Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo and former Congolese Vice President Jean-Pierre Bemba. It has notched just four war-crimes convictions to date, along with five convictions related to interfering with witnesses.
(Read more war crimes stories.)

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