Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Bosco Ntaganda surrenders


Gen. Bosco Ntaganda
Congolese rebel Bosco Ntaganda, wanted by International Criminal Court for war crimes, yesterday, surrendered to the US Embassy in Kigali, the Rwanda and the US governments have confirmed.

Rwanda’s Foreign Minister and Government Spokesperson, Louise Mushikiwabo, who broke the news on Twitter, said in a statement: “We’ve just learned that Gen Ntaganda presented himself at the US Embassy early this morning [yesterday].”

The statement added that government was establishing further details on the situation. 

The Public Affairs Officer at the US Embassy in Kigali, Susan Falatko, told The New Times: “Yes we can confirm, he walked into the Embassy this morning, [yesterday].” 

US State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland said when Ntaganda walked into their embassy in Kigali, he specifically asked to be transferred to the ICC in The Hague.

“We are in contact with the court and the government of Rwanda to facilitate his request,” Nuland told journalists in Washington, adding that she could not speak for Ntaganda as to why he had approached the US Embassy. 

“We strongly support the ICC and their investigation on the atrocities committed in the DR Congo,” Nuland said.

Ntaganda is said to have enjoyed protection from an M23 rebel faction led by deposed political leader Jean-Marie Runiga. 

Runiga’s faction had been fighting a rival faction loyal to the group’s military chief Sultani Makenga. He was one of the top commanders in the militia led by Congolese warlord Thomas Lubanga Dyilo, who was convicted in March, last year, by the ICC for war crimes and crimes against humanity in DR Congo. 

ICC indictment

In 2006, the ICC issued an arrest warrant for Ntaganda, who was then a General in DRC’s national army, for crimes committed against civilians in the Ituri region from 2002 to 2003. He was also accused of recruiting child soldiers in North Kivu in the 2012 rebellion. 

However, it is still unclear what the US Government, which had placed a $5m bounty on his head, will do with Ntaganda since it is not a signatory to The Hague-based ICC’s founding document, the Rome Statute, that establish the court. 

Part of the ICC’s indictment against Ntaganda includes war crimes and crimes against humanity, including rape, murder and recruiting child soldiers.

His surrender comes days after fighting between rival factions of the M23 saw 718 fighters led by Runiga into fleeing to Rwanda. The rebels were disarmed and secured, while Runiga is currently being held in a yet-to-be-known location in the country.


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