The International Criminal Court (ICC) has declared Congolese Rebel Bosco Ntaganda guilty of war crimes.
Ntaganda, popularly referred to as ‘Terminator’ was convicted on 18 count charges bordering on murder, rape, sexual slavery and using child soldiers. With this, he becomes the first person to be convicted of sexual slavery by the ICC.
According to the Judge, the 45-year-old rebel leader gave the orders to “target and kill civilians” in Democratic Republic of Congo’s volatile, mineral-rich Ituri region in 2002 and 2003 and also committed several atrocities which includes mass killing at a village where grown men and women, children and babies, were “disembowelled or had their heads smashed in”.
He was also responsible for the rape and sexual slavery of underage girls, and for recruiting troops under the age of 15. Ntaganda was also guilty of personally killing a Roman Catholic priest, the court said.
While his lawyers argued his recruitment as a child soldier influenced his ideologies, analysts said the crimes were committed as an act of self-preservation, motivated by the danger he was in after losing a power-struggle within his M23 rebel group. The soft-spoken Ntaganda known for his pencil moustache and a penchant for fine dining, on his own part told judges during his trial that he was “soldier not a criminal” and that the “Terminator” nickname did not apply to him.
The Congolese rebel who surrendered at the US embassy in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2013, is the fourth person to be convicted by the ICC since its creation in 2002.