The trial of the military commander Bosco Ntaganda for grave crimes in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo is scheduled to begin on September 2, 2015, at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague.
Human Rights Watch staff will be in the courtroom for the opening of the trial and will be live-tweeting it. Human Rights Watch also released a question-and-answer document and a video about the Ntaganda case.
“Bosco Ntaganda evaded an ICC arrest warrant for seven years while his forces continued to commit horrific abuses,” said Géraldine Mattioli-Zeltner, international justice advocacy director at Human Rights Watch. “Ntaganda’s trial shows that justice will catch up eventually with those wanted for the most serious crimes.”
The trial was initially scheduled to begin on June 2, but was postponed at the request of Ntaganda’s defense team, which sought more time to prepare given the amount of evidence recently disclosed by the ICC prosecutor’s office.
The ICC issued its first arrest warrant for Ntaganda in August 2006. He is facing 13 counts of war crimes and 5 counts of crimes against humanity for alleged murder, rape, and sexual slavery; recruiting and using child soldiers; and pillaging committed in Ituri, Congo in 2002 and 2003. Between 2006 and 2013, troops under Ntaganda’s command continued to be involved in grave human rights abuses. Ntaganda surrendered to the United States embassy in Kigali, Rwanda in March 2013 after his then-rebel force, M23, broke apart.
Ntaganda is the fourth person to be prosecuted at the ICC for grave crimes in Congo. A fifth ICC arrest warrant is pending against Gen. Sylvestre Mudacumura, the military leader of a largely Rwandan Hutu armed group active in Congo, the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR). Congolese authorities, with the help of United Nations peacekeepers, should urgently arrest Mudacumura and surrender him to the ICC, Human Rights Watch said.