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Congo Warlord Faces War Crimes After Turning Himself In

Bosco Ntaganda, a notorious warlord accused of crimes against humanity during Congo's civil war, is headed to an international court after turning himself in at the U.S. Embassy in Rwanda earlier this week.

NPR's Gregory Warner reports that the surrender of Ntaganda, nicknamed "The Terminator," came as a surprise. He's been wanted by the International Criminal Court since 2006 for crimes against humanity, including conscripting child soldiers, murder, rape and sexual slavery allegedly committed in 2002 and 2003 in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

According to Human Rights Watch, which put out the video at the top of the post:

"... in 2009 Ntaganda and his soldiers were integrated into the Congolese army as part of a peace agreement. In 2012, Ntaganda initially lead a mutiny, and he and his forces joined with other rebels to form a new armed group, M23, which battled Congolese and UN troops in eastern Congo until peace talks began in December."

His former comrades reportedly turned on him, which could have been the impetus for his sudden surrender, Warner reports.

Some Congo watchers wonder if Ntaganda is prepared to offer testimony of Rwanda's alleged role in fomenting the conflict in Congo that has claimed millions of lives, he says.

"Bosco Ntaganda's arrival in The Hague will be a major victory for victims of atrocities in eastern Congo and the local activists who have worked at great risk for his arrest," said Géraldine Mattioli-Zeltner, international justice advocacy director at Human Rights Watch.

The Associated Press reports that Ntaganda was turned over to ICC staff in the Rwandan capital, Kigali, after surrendering at the U.S. Embassy there on Monday:

"Ntaganda was taken out of the embassy amid tight security. Security forces were stationed along the main road to the airport, and there was an increased presence of armed troops at the airport.

"An official at the U.S. Embassy in Kigali who insisted on anonymity because he is not authorized to speak publicly told The Associated Press that ICC officials arrived aboard a private jet.

" 'They were given time to ask Ntaganda a few questions. At noon, all embassy workers were asked to leave to allow a clear passage,' the official said."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Scott Neuman is a reporter and editor, working mainly on breaking news for NPR's digital and radio platforms.