A CONGOLESE warlord known as the “Terminator” and accused of murder, rape and other atrocities was flown out of Rwanda yesterday to face war crimes charges in the International Criminal Court in The Hague.
Bosco Ntaganda gave himself up at the US embassy in Kigali on Monday after a 15-year career that spanned a series of Rwandan-backed rebellions in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
He was most recently a commander in the M23 rebel movement but his position weakened after the group broke in two.
His removal from the conflict creates an opportunity to secure a peace agreement to end the year-old rebellion in a region dogged by conflicts.
Ntaganda’s surrender was the first time an ICC suspect had voluntarily handed themselves over to the court’s custody.
He asked US officials to be transferred to the court, where he will face charges on Tuesday of recruiting child soldiers, murder, ethnic persecution, sexual slavery and rape during the 2002-3 conflict in north-eastern Congo’s gold-rich Ituri district.
His whereabouts had been unknown after hundreds of his fighters fled into Rwanda or surrendered to UN peacekeepers last weekend following their defeat by a rival faction of M23 rebels in eastern Congo.
“Bosco thought his choice was the ICC or probable death,” said Jason Stearns of the Rift Valley Institute. “His arrest won’t bring peace to the eastern Congo, but it does spell a victory in the battle against impunity and the dismantling to one of the barriers to a peace process.”
The trial of Rwandan-born Ntaganda could embarrass Rwanda, which has denied United Nations’ charges that it backs the M23 rebels.