Crime

Congolese Warlord Ntaganda ‘Terminator’ Guilty of War Crimes, says ICC

The Trial Chamber VI of the International Criminal Court (ICC) has Monday found Mr Bosco Ntaganda guilty, beyond reasonable doubt, of 18 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity, Chimp Corps report.

The crimes were committed in Ituri, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) between 2002-2003.

The decision will be welcomed by thousands of people who bore the brunt of the actions of Ntaganda alias ‘Terminator’.

Trial Chamber VI, composed of Judge Robert Fremr, Presiding Judge, Judge Kuniko Ozaki and Judge Chang-ho Chung, announced its judgment during a public hearing held in Courtroom I at the seat of the Court in The Hague (The Netherlands).

To make its decision, the Chamber said it reviewed all the evidence submitted during the trial, including documents, eye witnesses and insiders.

Court found that the Union des Patriotes Congolais [Union of Congolese Patriots] (UPC) and its military wing, the Forces Patriotiques pour la Libération du Congo [Patriotic Force for the Liberation of Congo] (FPLC), were at all times involved in at least one non-international armed conflict with an opposing party, in Ituri, district of the DRC from on or about 6 August 2002 to on or about 31 December 2003.

“The conduct of the UPC/FPLC against the civilian population was the intended outcome of a preconceived strategy to target the civilian population, and the crimes committed took place pursuant to a policy of the UPC/FPLC,’ the court announced.

“Mr Ntaganda fulfilled a very important military function in the UPC/FPLC.”

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In this context, the Chamber found Mr Ntaganda guilty of crimes against humanity (murder and attempted murder, rape, sexual slavery, persecution, forcible transfer and deportation) and war crimes (murder and attempted murder, intentionally directing attacks against civilians, rape, sexual slavery, ordering the displacement of the civilian population, conscripting and enlisting children under the age of 15 years into an armed group and using them to participate actively in hostilities, intentionally directing attacks against protected objects, and destroying the adversary’s property).

Mr Ntaganda has been in the Court’s custody since he fled DRC in 2013 following intense fighting with a splinter group of his rebel movement led by Sultan Makenga.

He crossed to Rwanda before finding refuge at the United States embassy in Kigali from where he was sent to ICC for trial.

Ntaganda was being tried as a direct perpetrator and indirect co-perpetrator of crimes.

Prosecution asked judges to consider adding an alternative mode of liability of “direct co-perpetration.”

Operations

Prosecutors argued that Ntaganda led his soldiers into operations and ordered them to commit crimes.

According to the testimony of a former FPLC soldier, the accused gave orders not to spare the enemy.

However, the trial also heard that Ntaganda ordered the execution of one of his soldiers who shot dead a civilian in Mongbwalu.

Witness P0901, a former FPLC insider, testified about the group’s structure and operations, including the central role Ntaganda played as its deputy chief of staff in charge of military operations and organization.

He said Ntaganda maintained a radio communication system at his residence, which enabled him to communicate to all UPC regional commanders.

The evidence of another former insider indicates the group used Motorola and Kenwood short-range radios and Thuraya satellite phones.

They also had phone base stations that could be used to communicate over a long distance, which could encrypt messages.

“While the evidence did not sustain all incidents indicated by the Prosecutor, it did demonstrate that in relation to each of the 18 counts at least part of the charges were proven beyond any reasonable doubt,” said ICC on Monday.

The Chamber found that Mr Ntaganda was “liable as a direct perpetrator for parts of the charges of three of the crimes, namely murder as a crime against humanity and a war crime and persecution as a crime against humanity, and was an indirect perpetrator for the other parts of these crimes.”

He was convicted as an indirect perpetrator for the remaining crimes.

Way forward

In order to determine Mr Ntaganda’s sentence in this case, the Chamber will receive submissions from the parties and participants regarding the possible sentence, and will schedule a separate hearing, to receive evidence and address matters related to sentencing.

Pending the decision on sentencing, Mr Ntaganda continues to be detained.

Court said the parties (the Prosecution and Defence) may appeal the decision of conviction within thirty days and that issues related to the procedure for victims’ reparations will be addressed in due course.

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