Congolese 'Terminator' warlord given 30-year sentence

Bosco Ntaganda was convicted of war crimes and crimes against humanity

The judges gave him the maximum possible sentence allowed by the ICC in terms of the number of years, but said his crimes did not justify a full-life prison term which is reserved for the gravest offences.

Prosecutors said his decision to hand himself in to the ICC that year was based on self-preservation as he was in danger because of a feud in the group.

The Rwanda-born 46-year-old former rebel was involved in numerous armed conflicts in both Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Physicians for Human Rights said the sentencing set an important precedent.

Ntaganda was also responsible for the rape and sexual slavery of underage girls, and of recruiting troops under the age of 15.

Anneke Van Woudenberg, executive director of corporate watchdog Raid, said Ntaganda was a brutal warlord who led from the front, often killing, raping and torturing civilians himself. He told judges during his trial that he was "soldier not a criminal" and that the "Terminator" nickname did not apply to him.

Ntaganda testified for weeks in his own defense, saying he wanted to put the record straight about his reputation as a ruthless military leader.

In total, he was convicted of 13 counts of war crimes and five of crimes against humanity.

He was then high up in the Union of Congolese Patriots (UPC), a rebel group with a military wing known as the Patriotic Forces for the Liberation of Congo (FPLC).

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On the basis of its overall assessment, and in accordance with the Rome Statute, the Chamber imposed a specific sentence for each of the crimes committed by Mr Ntaganda. He is serving a 14-year prison sentence.

He now has 30 days to appeal against the sentence.

The ICC had issued its first arrest warrant against Ntaganda for war crimes in Ituri in 2006 and the warlord became a symbol of impunity in the region.

But they found plenty of aggravating circumstances, identifying in the murder convictions the "particular cruelty" of several crimes, the "defenselessness of some of the victims" and the fact that Ntaganda, as a high-ranking commander, personally murdered a man in front of his subordinates.

Placide Nzilamba, a Congolese human rights activist, said that the DRC needed proper local courts, investigators and a justice system.

It was something of a victory for the victims, particularly the women, that the court recognised gender violence and acknowledged rape as a weapon of war.

However, this is not limited to Africa, as Russia, China and the United States also do not recognise the court's jurisdiction.

President Donald Trump's former national security adviser, John Bolton, past year said the USA wouldn't cooperate with the court, adding that "for all intents and purposes, the ICC is already dead to us".

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