October 15, 2019

Bosco Ntaganda, ‘The Terminator,’ Is Convicted of War Crimes by I.C.C.

Bosco Ntaganda, ‘The Terminator,’ Is Convicted of War Crimes by I.C.C.

THE HAGUE, Netherlands — The International Criminal Court on Monday convicted a notorious rebel commander known as “The Terminator” of 18 counts of crimes against humanity and war crimes, including murder, rape and sexual slavery for his role in atrocities in an ethnic conflict in a mineral-rich region of Congo in 2002-2003.

Bosco Ntaganda, the former commander, maintained his innocence during his trial but now faces a maximum life sentence after the verdict. He showed no emotion as the presiding judge, Robert Fremr, delivered the judgment.

A separate hearing will be scheduled to determine Mr. Ntaganda’s sentence. He has 30 days to appeal.

Mr. Ntaganda, who was first indicted in 2006, became a symbol of impunity in Africa, even serving as a general in the Congolese Army before turning himself in 2013 as his power base crumbled. In March of that year, Mr. Ntaganda unexpectedly showed up at the United States Embassy in Kigali, the Rwandan capital, where he was taken into custody, after a reward was established for his arrest.

Judge Fremr said that Mr. Ntaganda was guilty as a direct perpetrator or a co-perpetrator of murders, rapes of men and women, a massacre in a banana field behind a building called The Paradiso and of enlisting and using child soldiers.

During his trial, Mr. Ntaganda testified for weeks in his own defense, saying that he wanted to put the record straight about his reputation as a ruthless military leader. At a hearing in 2013, when asked by a judge to state his profession, he responded, “I was a soldier in the Congo.”

He was the deputy chief of staff and commander of operations for rebel group the Patriotic Forces for the Liberation of Congo. The force’s leader, Thomas Lubanga, was convicted by the International Criminal Court in 2012 of using child soldiers. He is serving a 14-year prison sentence.

The convictions on Monday were a victory for the court’s prosecutors after some recent high-profile defeats. In January, judges acquitted Laurent Gbagbo, the former president of the Ivory Coast, and a former government minister of involvement in crimes after disputed 2010 elections.

Last year, a former Congolese vice president, Jean-Pierre Bemba, was acquitted on appeal in connection with crimes that prosecutors said were committed by his militia in the neighboring Central African Republic.

Set up in 2002, the court has convicted only four people of war crimes. Five others have been found guilty of interfering with witnesses.

Judge Fremr said 102 witnesses had testified at Mr. Ntaganda’s trial, including a woman who survived having her throat slit by his forces. The judge said the former commander himself had shot and killed an elderly man serving as a Catholic priest.

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