The International Criminal Court (ICC) case in the Hague against accused rebel leader Bosco Ntaganda begins today, September 2nd, 2015. Ntaganda faces a total of 18 charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Wanted by the ICC since 2006, Ntaganda is known as “The Terminator” for his ruthless tactics, including recruitment of child soldiers, murder, pillage, and rape and sexual slavery. Originally from Rwanda, Ntaganda fought for years with various rebel groups in both Rwanda and Congo. Charges Ntaganda faces were committed in Congo’s Ituri region, an area rich with gold and other minerals, where militias have perpetrated armed violence as a means to control the region’s illicit minerals trade.
“Ntaganda is charged with brutal crimes committed against a backdrop of vast minerals wealth. Ituri has been the site of some of Congo's worst violence – and it is also one of Congo's most minerals-rich regions. Violence against civilians during Ntaganda's reign at times resulted from battles to secure control over gold, diamonds and other precious resources. In the case that unfolds against Ntaganda in the coming months, if evidence reveals widespread theft of minerals, prosecutors have a duty to pursue charges of natural resource pillage as a war crime.”
– Holly Dranginis Enough Project Policy Analyst in a press statement on the trial
During a press conference on September 1st, Chief Prosecutor of the ICC, Fatou Bensouda stated that this is “not a trial about ethnicity or an ethnic group. It is about an individual, Bosco Ntaganda and how he took advantage of the ethnic tensions in Ituri for his own purposes, to gain power and wealth, and in that process committed atrocity crimes.”
“We will not abandon the victims of atrocity crimes”
– Prosecutor Bensouda in a statement preceding the opening of the trial against Ntaganda
In March 2013, Ntaganda surrendered to the custody of U.S. officials in Rwanda, asking to be transferred to the ICC.
In a Huffington Post article, Patrick Alley, Director and Co-Founder at Global Witness and Norbert Mbu Mputu, Congolese activist and President of the Southern Peoples Project write that while Ntaganda stands trial on 18 counts of war crimes, many more crimes have gone unreported.
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For additional information, Human Rights Watch coverage can be found here: