International court upholds Congolese warlord’s conviction

Rwandan-born warlord Bosco Ntaganda is seen during his first appearance before judges of the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands, Tuesday March 26, 2013. International Criminal Court appeals judges upheld Tuesday, March 30, 2021, the convictions and 30-year prison sentence of a Congolese warlord known as "The Terminator" who was found guilty of crimes including murder, rape and sexual slavery. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong, Pool)

By MIKE CORDER

Associated Press

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — International Criminal Court appeals judges on Tuesday upheld the convictions and 30-year prison sentence of a Congolese warlord known as “The Terminator” who was found guilty of crimes including murder, rape and sexual slavery.

Bosco Ntaganda was convicted in July 2019 for his role as a commander of rebels responsible for atrocities committed during a brutal ethnic conflict in a mineral-rich region of Congo in 2002-2003.

The global court found him guilty of a total of 18 counts of crimes against humanity and war crimes.

On Tuesday, a five-judge appeals panel rejected all 15 of Ntaganda’s challenges to the convictions and also upheld his sentence.

The judges also rejected an appeal by prosecutors challenging a legal point in the original trial decision.

“The appeals chamber confirms by a majority the conviction decision and rejects the appeal lodged by Mr Ntaganda and the prosecutor,” Presiding Judge Howard Morrison said.

Ntaganda, wearing a facemask for the hearing, sat impassively as Morrison read out a lengthy summary of the appeals chamber’s findings.

Ntaganda became a symbol for impunity in Africa in the years between his indictment and his surrender to the court in 2013. He has always insisted he was innocent.

Judges at his trial disagreed, saying he was guilty as a direct perpetrator of a murder and as an indirect co-perpetrator of crimes committed by his rebel militia forces including murders, rapes of men and women, a massacre in a banana field and of enlisting and using child soldiers.

Ntaganda himself used child soldiers as bodyguards in his position as deputy chief of staff and commander of operations for the Patriotic Forces for the Liberation of Congo rebel group. The force’s leader, Thomas Lubanga, was convicted by the ICC in 2012 of using child soldiers. He is serving a 14-year prison sentence.

Earlier this month, ICC judges awarded victims of Ntaganda’s crimes $30 million in reparations.