Trial of former rebel leader Bosco Ntaganda begins at the ICC

September 3, 2015 OPINION/NEWS

09-02-2015Bosco_Ntaganda

 

By

Sylvain Muyali

Nicknamed ‘The Terminator’, General Bosco Ntaganda was one of the main perpetrators of the violence that decimated the north-east of the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2002 and 2003. Yesterday he was at the International Criminal Court in the Hague for his trial for crimes against humanity.

“Bosco Ntaganda was one of the most important commanders who ordered the attacks on civilians” prosecutor of the ICC Fatou Bensouda stated before the court in The Hague: “This case concerns the violence which decimated the Ituri region, killing hundreds of civilians, leaving thousands living on nothing in the forest.”

“The population has been traumatised by sexual violence,” she added, under the impassive gaze of the accused, wearing a white shirt and a striped gray tie.

Two days are planned for the trial: Ms Bensouda was speaking first, making way to then question witnesses, followed by the counsel for Mr Ntaganda and finally to the accused himself.

“It is not the trial of an ethnic group, but the trial of an individual who took advantage of ethnic tensions in Ituri for personal gain, to achieve power and wealth,” added Ms Bensouda.

Bosco Ntaganda, 41, is accused of thirteen war crimes and five crimes against humanity, including murder, looting, attacks against civilians, rape and sexual slavery.

The accused was deputy chief of the General Staff of the Patriotic Forces for the Liberation of Congo (FPLC), predominantly Hema militia aimed, prosecutors, people perceived as belonging to the Lendu, Bira and Nande.

The violence tore apart the Ituri region, once rich in minerals, costing more than 60,000 lives, according to NGOs.

 

Ntaganda is the first accused in international criminal law who must answer rape and sexual slavery committed against children of his own militia.

“Ntaganda and his militia forced children to kill, they treated them cruelly and raped the girls,” added the assistant to Fatou Bensouda, Nicole Samson.

During the trial, the prosecution is expected to present more than 8,000 documents, expert reports, video clips and declarations. Over 70 ‘facts of witnesses’ and a dozen expert witnesses will be cited.

At the opening of the hearing, Bosco Ntaganda pleaded, in an almost inaudible voice, and his mother tongue of Kinyarwanda, “not guilty of all charges.”

The trial continues.

 

 

 

 

sylvain muyali

Sylvain Muyali

Sylvain Muyali is a Congolese Journalist, Photographer and Filmmaker, as well as acting as Fixer and Facilitator for analysts and researchers, building capacities for NGO monitoring in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He has reported previously for the Associated Press and his words and images can also be found at ‘Vivons Positivement

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