He was the archetype of lord of the Congolese war. Relentless rebel boss, skillful in military strategy and with unbridled ambition, Bosco Ntaganda led several armed groups in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo that sowed chaos among the population for years.
His nickname, the Terminator of Congo, points out the cruelty of his crimes: he ordered his men to rape, rob and murder civilians and used terror to sow panic, cause massive displacements, and thus control lucrative gold and coltan mines in the area. its power and
wealth they were as gigantic as their lack of scruples: their soldiers ravaged whole villages and ended up beating the lives of babies, raping women in groups and mutilating old people.
Archetype of the Congolese warlord, the ex-guerrilla was ambitious and ruthless
Accustomed to impunity, Ntaganda, who joined the Congolese army in 2009 for a time, after a desperate and much-criticized agreement with the Congolese government, then returned to the jungle to lead another rebel movement because he thought that his enormous influence would protect him forever. Yesterday it was confirmed that it will not be like that. The International Criminal Court declared ex-guerrilla Ntaganda guilty of 18 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity, including murder, rape, sexual slavery and conscription of child soldiers. The atrocities were committed in the Ituri region in the years 2002-2003, when Ntaganda was the right hand of General Thomas Lubanga, then rebel leader of the Union of Congolese Patriots group, and who was sentenced to 14 years by the Hague in 2012 .
The sentence that will determine the time that Ntaganda, 45, must remain in prison will be determined later. The maximum penalty in The Hague court is 30 years, although life imprisonment may be imposed in exceptional cases.
He ordered rapes, robberies and murder of civilians to spread terror among the population
Although the Congolese rebel leader is the fourth person convicted by the ICC since its inception in 2002, yesterday's conviction brought a significant novelty as the charges of sexual slavery and sexual abuse against men, often involving people, were accepted for the first time. his own militia. The three judges of the international court determined that Ntaganda and his men, in addition to kidnapping minors to force them to fight, abducted several children and women who were used as sex slaves for years. According to the presiding judge of the case, Robert Fremr at least three girls "under the age of 15 suffered repeated violations". After listening to more than 2,100 victims – several groups were formed with legal representatives – the magistrates considered it proven that the Congo Terminator killed a Catholic priest with his own hands.
Ntaganda listened yesterday to the condemnatory words of the judge with the serious gesture and the cold look, aware of his calculation error. In 2013, he himself surrendered to the US embassy in DR Congo after having been in search and capture since the ICC issued an arrest warrant against him in 2006. According to several analysts, his delivery was not motivated by repentance but because his life was in danger after a power struggle within the rebel group M-23.
For the human rights organization Human Rights Watch, the Hague decision confirms the end of Ntaganda's impunity and sends a clear message to those who continue to shed blood in DR Congo. "The expected trial brings an important sense of justice to the victims of Bosco Ntaganda and will put on alert those responsible for serious crimes," said Maria Elena Vignoli, spokesperson for HRW. For the Congolese human rights organizations, the Hague decision provoked a wave of hope and joy, but without excess. Much work remains to be done: only last June, the area where the Congo Terminator perpetrated its worst crimes saw a resurgence of violence at the hands of several rebel groups. More than 300,000 people were forced to flee their homes.