DR Congo: Bosco Ntaganda appears before ICC

Bosco Ntaganda in court Gen Ntaganda has fought for several different rebel groups, as well as the Congolese army

Congolese war crimes suspect Bosco Ntaganda has appeared before the International Criminal Court at The Hague for the first time, following his surprise surrender last week.

Gen Ntaganda, a key figure in the conflict in eastern DR Congo, denies war crimes and crimes against humanity.

He said he pleaded not guilty, before the judge interrupted him and said he should not enter a plea at this stage.

He faces 10 counts, including rape, murder and using child soldiers.

Gen Ntaganda handed himself in at the US embassy in the Rwandan capital, Kigali, on 17 March and was flown to the Netherlands, where the war crimes court is based.

He has fought for a number of rebel groups as well as the Congolese army.

Who is Bosco Ntaganda?

  • Born in 1973 in Rwanda
  • Fled to DR Congo as a teenager after attacks on fellow ethnic Tutsis
  • At 17, he begins his fighting days - alternating between being a rebel and a soldier, in both Rwanda and DR Congo
  • In 2006, indicted by the ICC for allegedly recruiting child soldiers in Ituri
  • In 2009, he is integrated into the Congolese national army and made a general
  • In 2012, he defects from the army, sparking a new rebellion which forces 800,000 from their homes
  • In March 2013, hands himself in to US embassy in Kigali

Most recently, he was believed to be one of the leaders of the M23 rebel movement, which has been fighting government troops in the east.

However, the seven counts of war crimes and three counts of crimes against humanity he faces relate to his involvement with a different rebel group - in the Ituri region of DR Congo, between 2002-2003.

He was part of the Union of Congolese Patriots rebel group, led by Thomas Lubanga who last year became the only person convicted by the ICC.

In court, Gen Ntaganda was informed of the charges and was told a confirmation hearing would be held on 23 September to determine whether there is enough evidence to put him on trial.

He told the court he was born in Rwanda but grew up in DR Congo and was a Congolese national.

He confirmed his profession as a soldier and said he preferred to speak in Kinyarwanda.

Eastern DR Congo has suffered from two decades of violence linked to ethnic rivalries and competition for the control of the area's rich mineral resources.

The unrest began when some of the ethnic Hutu militants accused of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda fled into DR Congo.

Like those who have governed Rwanda since the genocide, Gen Ntaganda is an ethnic Tutsi.

Human rights groups have celebrated Gen Ntaganda's surrender to the court as a victory for international law and the victims of atrocities in the region.

But some analysts have suggested his surrender was his last resort and only chance of staying alive after splits within the M23 rebels, the BBC's Anna Holligan in The Hague says.

More on This Story

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites

More Africa stories

RSS

Features & Analysis

  • Stained glass of man with swordFrance 1 England 0

    The most important battle you have probably never heard of


  • Golden retriever10 things

    Dogs get jealous, and nine more nuggets from the week's news


  • Pro-Israel demonstrators shout slogans while protesting in Berlin - 25 July 2014Holocaust guilt

    Gaza conflict leaves Germans confused over who to support


  • The emir of Kuwait Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Jaber al-SabahFreedoms fear

    Growing concern for rights as Kuwait revokes citizenships


Elsewhere on the BBC

  • CastleRoyal real estate

    No longer reserved for kings and queens, some find living in a castle simply divine

Programmes

  • Leader of Hamas Khaled MeshaalHARDtalk Watch

    BBC exclusive: Hamas leader on the eagerness to end bloodshed in Gaza

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.