Congolese warlord in custody of International Criminal Court
New York, Mar 23 : The Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) has welcomed the news of the transfer of Congolese warlord Bosco Ntaganda to The Hague, where he faces charges for a range of alleged war crimes, including rape, murder and the recruitment of children.
Ntaganda has been indicted by the Court on seven counts of war crimes and three counts of crimes against humanity allegedly committed in Ituri province in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) between 2002 and 2003. He turned himself in to the United States Embassy in Rwanda on Monday.
"This is a good day for victims in the DRC and for international justice," ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said in a news release. "Friday those who are alleged to have long suffered at the hands of Bosco Ntaganda can look forward to the future and the prospect of justice taking its course."
Also welcoming the transfer was Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who "strongly believes that it will advance the cause of peace in the Democratic Republic of the Congo as well as the fight against impunity in the region," according to a statement issued by his spokesperson.
In addition, the members of the Security Council issued a statement to the press, in which they viewed Ntaganda's surrender "as a positive step for international criminal justice as well as toward the restoration of peace and security in eastern DRC."
Ntaganda's initial appearance before the Court's pre-trial chamber is set for 26 March.
The Court noted that this is the first time that a suspect has surrendered voluntarily to its custody, and expressed its gratitude for the support and cooperation of the Dutch and US authorities, both in Rwanda and in the Netherlands.
Bensouda also thanked all actors "who have been working for so long to make this day possible." At the same time, she added that, "as we welcome progress in one case, others also subject to ICC warrants in the region remain at large."
She urged all States now to renew and refocus their efforts to secure the arrest of Sylvestre Mudacumura, the head of the Rwandan rebel group known as the FDLR, and all others subject to ICC warrants for alleged crimes committed in DRC who are still at large.
The ICC is the first permanent international court set up to prosecute individuals for genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and the crime of aggression.