Congo Rebel Leader Ntaganda in Custody After Leaving Rwanda

Bosco Ntaganda, a Congolese rebel leader wanted for war crimes, is in the International Criminal Court’s custody after he left the U.S. Embassy in Rwanda for transfer to The Hague, the court said.

Ntaganda “surrendered himself voluntarily and is now in the ICC’s custody,” the court said in an e-mailed statement today. He’s en route to the ICC’s detention center, it said.

A founder of Congo’s M23 rebel group, Ntaganda is wanted by the ICC for war crimes in eastern Congo in 2002 and 2003. He left Congo’s army last year amid fears he would be arrested and started M23. Last month, M23 split in two with a faction controlled by Brigadier-General Sultani Makenga vowing to capture Ntaganda.

Congo accuses neighboring Rwanda of supporting M23, a charge the country denies. Several Western nations have cut aid to Rwanda because of the accusations.

“The United States welcomes the removal of one of the most notorious and brutal rebels in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Bosco Ntaganda, from Rwanda to the International Criminal Court in The Hague,” U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said today in an e-mailed statement. “This is an important moment for all who believe in justice and accountability.”

An ethnic Tutsi who was born in Rwanda, Ntaganda is facing seven counts of war crimes and three counts of crimes against humanity, according to the ICC’s website. Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda’s office accuses him of using child soldiers and “murder, attacks against civilians, rape and sexual slavery, and pillage” in Congo’s Ituri region in 2002 and 2003.

Ntaganda surrendered to the U.S. Embassy in Kigali, the Rwandan capital, on March 18. The U.S. State Department facilitated his request to be transfered to the court.

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