A Congolese rebel wanted for alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity has turned himself in to US authorities. Bosco Ntaganda, a Rwandan-born Tutsi, had been one of the world’s most wanted fugitives.
US officials confirmed on Monday that Ntaganda, an alleged leader of the year-old M23 revolt in the east of the Democratic Rebublic of Congo had walked into the US embassy in Kigali and surrendered.
US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told reporters in Washington that Ntaganda had asked to be transferred to the International Criminal Court in The Hague, which has been seeking his arrest since 2006 on a series of war crimes charges.
Neither Rwanda nor the US are required to hand Ntaganda over to the ICC, as neither has signed on to the Rome Statute that established the international court. However, Nuland said the US did intend to ensure that he was transferred to The Hague.
"We want to facilitate that request," Nuland said. "We strongly support the work that the ICC is doing to investigate the atrocities committed in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. And we are going to continue to work with the ICC on this matter."
Among the charges the ICC wants to put Ntaganda on trial for are conscripting child soldiers, murder, ethnic persecution and rape.
Ntaganda (shown above in Congolese army uniform) is popularly known as "The Terminator," and has fought for a number of groups over the past two decades, including rebels, militias and the armies of both Rwanda and the Congo.
A United Nations report released last October named him as the leader controlling the M23 rebellion on the ground and said he took "direct military orders" from senior Rwandan army officers. Rwanda denies support in the rebellion.
Prior to the rebellion, Ntaganga had been integrated into Congo's army as part of a peace deal agreed in 2009.
The latest conflict began last spring when the soldiers defected from the army, claiming that the government had failed to uphold its end of the peace agreement.
pfd/jr (Reuters, AP, AFP)