DR Congo warlord leaves Rwanda for The Hague

Bosco Ntaganda on his way to International Criminal Court in The Hague in custody of ICC officials.

    Democratic Republic of Congo rebel leader Bosco Ntaganda has left Rwanda with International Criminal Court officials for trial in The Hague, officials said.

    "Bosco Ntaganda has just taken off from Kigali in custody of ICC officials," Rwandan foreign minister Louise Mushikiwabo said in a message on her Twitter account on Friday, referring to the Congo warlord dubbed 'The Terminator'.

    Ntaganda surprised US embassy staff in Kigali on Monday when he walked in off the street and asked for help in reaching the ICC, where he is wanted on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

    The ICC also confirmed on Friday that he had left Kigali and was "heading to the ICC detention centre in The Hague" in The Netherlands.

    "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.

    US Secretary of State John Kerry says he welcomes the removal of Ntaganda from Rwanda to the ICC.

    Ntaganda 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.

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

    A date will also be set at that point for the "opening of the confirmation of charges hearing, a preliminary step to decide whether the case will be referred to a trial or not," the ICC added.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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