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(The Hague) – The Congolese rebel leader Bosco Ntaganda is on a plane to The Hague, where he will face justice at the International Criminal Court (ICC), almost seven years after the court issued its first arrest warrant against him.

“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. “Ntaganda’s expected trial will underscore the importance of the ICC in providing accountability for the world’s worst crimes when national courts are unable or unwilling to deliver justice.”

In a surprising turn of events, Ntaganda surrendered voluntarily to the United States embassy in Kigali, Rwanda, on March 18, 2013, and asked to be transferred to the ICC. A number of governments, most prominently the United States, had called for Ntaganda to face justice over the years.

In 2006 and 2012, the ICC issued two arrest warrants against Ntaganda for war crimes and crimes against humanity, including murder, rape and sexual slavery, recruitment and use of child soldiers, and pillaging during the Ituri conflict in north-eastern Congo in 2002-2003.

Ntaganda's arrival at the court will bring to a close over a decade of involvement in human rights abuses across eastern Congo. Human Rights Watch has documented a consistent pattern of grave international crimes by troops under Ntaganda's command over the years and has repeatedly called for him to be arrested and brought to justice.

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