Africa News

Congolese warlord given 30-year sentence for crimes against humanity

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The International Criminal Court sentenced Congolese rebel chief Bosco “Terminator” Ntaganda to 30 years in jail for war crimes and crimes against humanity on Thursday, the highest ever penalty issued by the tribunal.

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Ntaganda was convicted in July of offences including murder, sexual slavery and using child soldiers in a mineral-rich region of the Democratic Republic of Congo in the early 2000s.

Most of the charges against Rwandan-born Ntaganda, 46, related to a series of gruesome massacres of villagers carried out by his fighters.

“Murder was committed on a large scale,” presiding judge Robert Flemr said, adding that the Hague-based court had taken the “particular cruelty” of some of Ntagandas actions into account.

“The overall sentence imposed on you shall therefore be 30 years of imprisonment.”

But while the judges gave him the maximum sentence allowed by the ICC in terms of the number of years, they said that “despite their gravity” his crimes did not warrant a full-life prison term.

Ntaganda, dressed in a blue suit and shirt and wearing a red tie, showed no emotion as the sentence was passed in the high-security courtroom.

An ICC spokesman confirmed it was the heaviest ever sentence handed down to date by the court, which was set up in 2002 to try the worlds worst crimes.

Ntaganda has appealed against his conviction earlier this year on 13 counts of war crimes and five of crimes against humanity—which saw him become the first to be convicted by the ICC of sexual enslavement.

Held to account

Human Rights Watch welcomed the prison term.

“Bosco Ntagandas 30-year sentence sends a strong message that even people considered untouchable may one day be held to account,” said Ida Sawyer, deputy director of Human Rights Watchs Africa division.

“While his victims pain cannot be erased, they can take some comfort in seeing justice prevail.”

A refugee from the 1994 genocide of Tutsis in Rwanda, Ntaganda emerged as a ruthless driver of ethnic Tutsi revolts that subsequently convulsed neighbouring DRC.

Judges said Ntaganda was a “key leader” of the Union of Congolese Patriots rebel group and its military wing, the Patriotic Forces for the Liberation of Congo (FPLC), in the DRCs volatile Ituri region in 2002 and 2003.

More than 60,000 people have been killed since the violence erupted in Ituri, according to rights groups, as militias battle each other for control of mineral resources.

The court heard fearful villagers dubbed him “Terminator”, after the Arnold Schwarzenegger film about a merciless robotic killer, during two bloody operations by Ntagandas soldiers against civilians in rival villages in 2002 and 2003.

Fighters loyal to him carried out atrocities such as a massacre in a banana field behind a village in which at least 49 people including children and babies were disembowelled or had their heads smashed in.

No mitigating factors

Ntaganda received a series of sentences ranging from eight to 30 years, with ICC rules saying that the overall prison term must reflect the highest individual sentence.

He got 30 years for murder and attempted murder, with judges saying he was directly guilty of the murder of a Catholic priest and indirectly responsible for many others by directing the military offensivRead More – Source