A Congolese warlord widely known as “the Terminator” ordered troops, including child soldiers, to massacre and rape civilians to spread terror and grab territory, prosecutors told the International Criminal Court.
The allegations against Bosco Ntaganda were made on Monday as judges decided whether there was sufficient evidence for him to stand trial. Ntaganda has yet to enter a plea.
“He played a key role in planning assaults against the civilian population in order to gain territory,” said the chief prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, setting out her arguments to judges.
He played a key role in planning assaults against the civilian population.
Ntaganda was a senior military commander who should also be punished because he “failed to prevent or punish crimes by troops under his effective command or control”, she said.
Ntaganda, an ethnic Hema, is accused of crimes against humanity and war crimes including murder and rape, all allegedly committed during a 2002-03 conflict in the mineral-rich east of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The crimes were committed against the Lendu population and other ethnic groups in a bid to drive them out of the Ituri region over 12 months from September 2002, said the prosecutor.
Ntaganda, a tall, slight man with a pencil-line moustache, rose briefly at the start of the hearing, speaking in his native Kinyarwanda tongue to confirm his identity.
Ntaganda handed himself in to the US embassy in the Rwandan capital Kigali last March after a 15-year career as a commander in a series of rebellions in DR Congo’s Ituri province.
Shortly after his arrival in The Hague, prosecutors asked judges for more time to rebuild a case which had been dormant for five years while Ntaganda was on the run.
|The trial of DR Congo’s ‘The Terminator’|
The court, 11 years old this year, has handed down just one conviction – jailing another Congolese warlord, Thomas Lubanga, for 14 years in 2012 for using child soldiers.
Wars in DR Congo have killed about five million people in the past decade and a half, and many eastern areas are still afflicted by violence from a number of rebel groups despite a decade-old U.N. peacekeeping mission.