Former Congolese general-turned-rebel leader Bosco Ntaganda has made his first appearance before the International Criminal Court on Tuesday, more than seven years after the court first issued a warrant for his arrest.
Ntaganda is facing seven counts of war crimes and three counts of crimes against humanity.
ICC prosecutors say that as a militia leader in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, he was criminally responsible for the use of child soldiers, and acts of murder, rape and sexual slavery.
The purpose of Tuesday’s hearing was to inform Ntaganda of the charges and set a date for a preliminary hearing that will decide if the case goes to trial.
Ntaganda turned himself in at the U.S. Embassy in Rwanda last week and asked to be sent to ICC custody in The Hague.
Nicknamed “The Terminator,” Ntaganda became a general in the Congolese army in 2009 as part of a peace deal that integrated his rebel group into the military. But he and many of his soldiers deserted in 2012 and formed the rebel group M23.
The United Nations said last week that his faction of M23 was routed by a rival faction, prompting up to 600 Congolese fighters and civilians to cross into Rwanda.
Voice of America