The Hague, 30 April 2008 (FH) - The International Criminal Court (ICC) has announced an arrest warrant against Bosco Ntaganda, a former deputy Chief of Staff of Union of Patriotic Congolese (UPC), a militia group with its base in Ituri, eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

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The prosecutor, Luis Moreno Ocampo, in an official statement, called upon the national authorities and actors concerned to cooperate for Ntaganda's arrest and his transfer to the Hague-based Court. The warrant was under seal since August 2006.

He does not mention the United Nations Mission in Congo (MONUC), but the indictment was communicated, according to AFP, on 22 August 2006 to UN officials in Kinshasa.

Ntaganda, also known by name of "Terminator", is suspected of having enrolled and trained child soldiers in 2002 and 2003 in Ituri.

Since then, the suspect, who is of Rwandan origin, has joined the troops of Laurent Nkunda in Kivu. The leader of the National Congress for the Defence of the Congolese People (CNDP), signatory to the Goma Peace Accords last January, is also targeted by the Court.

Seven of the warrants made public up to date, which concern Sudanese, Ugandan and Congolese officials, have still not been executed. The high number of fugitives is explained by the absence of co-operation of the states in the arrest of the suspects; because, like the ad hoc tribunals, the ICC does not have its own police force, but also by the choices made by the prosecutor.

According to sources, he refused to set up a "tracking team", as has been the case with the tribunals for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and Rwanda (ICTR).

For the Court, financed by the 108 states parties of its statute, the protection of its witnesses represents an important cost. According to one of its reports, in the absence of trials, the protection of the witnesses of the crimes committed in Darfur, of which many have taken refuge in Chad, already has cost more than 400 000 Euros.

Three suspects, indicted at the ICC, have until now been transferred to The Hague. They are: Thomas Lubanga, Germain Katanga and Mathieu Ngundjolo; but they are only wanted for their role in the conscription into their troops of children aged below fifteen years. The prosecutor is not prosecuting them for the massacres committed in the region.

Only one lawsuit is about to start, that of the former UPC leader Thomas Lubanga, expected to start on 23 June; almost four years after the opening of the investigation.

However, sources said that the prosecutor was not ready to present the case yet.

The procedures at the ICC are in particular slowed down because of the role allotted to the victims, which can become civil parties.

In July, the Treaty of Rome, which resulted in the creation of the Court, will celebrate its tenth anniversary.


© Hirondelle News Agency