Hague holds DR Congo suspect
Mathieu Ngudjolo will face chages over the killing of 200 villagers in 2003.
Last Modified: 07 Feb 2008 21:59 GMT
Ngudjolo, right, was arrested in Kinshasa on suspicion of war crimes and crimes against humanity [AFP]
A former leader of an armed group in the Democratic Republic of Congo has been sent to the International Criminal Court (ICC) accused of ordering the deaths of about 200 villagers in 2003, officials say.

Mathieu Ngudjolo, the former chief of the Nationalist and Integrationist Front, was arrested in Kinshasa and sent to the Hague on Thursday.
Luis Moreno-Ocampo, the chief prosecutor at the ICC, said the transfer of Ngudjolo, accused of ordering his men to "wipe out" the entire northeastern village of Bogoro, "completes the first phase of the DR Congo investigations" focusing on crimes in the Ituri region.
Symphorien Mutombo Bakafwa, DR Congo's justice minister, said that Ngudjolo, believed to be 37-years old, was arrested in the capital on suspicion of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Fatou Besouda, the court's deputy prosecutor, said that "hundreds were killed, maimed or terrorised" during the operation.

"Women were forced to become sexual slaves. The village was pillaged by FNI forces and razed to the ground."

The prosecution alleges that Ngudjolo, as the highest-ranking FNI commander, played "an essential role in designing and implementing an indiscriminate attack against the village ... on or around 24 February 2003".

About 200 civilians were murdered, while others were tortured, imprisoned in a room filled with corpses, or used as sex slaves, according to the arrest warrant.

Nine counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity, including the use of child soldiers, were listed on the warrant.

'No impunity'

Investigations into the DR Congo began in June 2004 after the Congolese government referred the situation in the country to the ICC.

Moreno-Ocampo said his team will now turn its attention to the eastern provinces of North and South Kivu, where "there are clear reports of serious crimes being committed even today".

"There will be no impunity for the worst perpetrators of the worst crimes in the DR Congo," he said.

Since 1999, clashes between factions and tribal killings have claimed at least 60,000 lives in mineral-rich Ituri, which borders Uganda.

A further 600,000 people have been displaced, according to aid agencies.

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