Date set for DR Congo warlord ICC appearance

Bosco Ntaganda accused of war crimes will face judges for first time on March 26, the Hague-based court says.

    Congolese war crimes suspect Bosco Ntaganda will make his first appearance before the International Criminal Court (ICC) on March 26, following his transfer from Rwanda to The Hague, the court has said.

    Judges at the Hague court will use the Tuesday morning hearing to verify his identity.

    "The initial appearance of Bosco Ntaganda before Pre-Trial Chamber II of the ICC is scheduled for Tuesday, 26 March 2013 at 11:00am local time (10:00 GMT)," the court said in a statement on Friday.

    Ntaganda, who faces charges ranging from murder and rape to using child soldiers in Democratic Republic of Congo, in a surprise move handed himself in to the US embassy in the Rwandan capital, Kigali, on Monday.

    Earlier on Friday, Rwandan foreign minister Louise Mushikiwabo said in a message on her Twitter account that Bosco Ntaganda had taken off from Kigali.

    The ICC also confirmed Ntaganda had arrived at the court's detention centre in the Netherlands after leaving the Rwandan capital.

    "This is the first time that a suspect has surrendered himself voluntarily to be in the ICC's custody," the court said in a statement, thanking American, Dutch and Rwandan authorities for their support.

    John Kerry, the US secretary of state, has welcomed the transfer of Ntaganda to the ICC as a victory for "justice and accountability".

    "Now there is hope that justice will be done," Kerry said, in a statement.

    Ntaganda, who is dubbed 'The Terminator', is wanted on seven charges of war crimes and three of crimes against humanity allegedly committed in DR Congo.

    He was allegedly involved in the brutal murder of at least 800 people in villages in the eastern DR Congo, using child soldiers in his rebel army and keeping women as sex slaves between September 2002 and September 2003.

    Ntaganda will receive a medical checkup in The Hague before appearing "as soon as possible" before judges, where he will then be read the charges against him.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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