Arusha, June 10, 2014 (FH) – The International Criminal Court (ICC) on Monday confirmed charges against former Congolese militia leader Bosco Ntaganda and committed him for trial. The defence has the right to appeal.

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"Pre-Trial Chamber II of the International Criminal Court (ICC) unanimously confirmed charges consisting in 18 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity,” says an ICC press release. These counts include murder and attempted murder; attacking civilians; rape; sexual slavery of civilians; pillaging; displacement of civilians; attacking protected objects; destroying the enemy’s property; and rape, sexual slavery, enlistment and conscription of child soldiers under the age of fifteen years and using them to participate actively in hostilities.

Ntaganda, nicknamed the “Terminator” because of his reputed cruelty, was allegedly deputy chief of staff of the Forces Patriotiques pour la Libération du Congo (FPLC). He has been detained at the ICC prison in The Hague since March 22, 2013.

Based on the evidence submitted, the judges found that there was a widespread and systematic attack in 2002 and 2003 against part of the civilian population in Ituri district of northeast Democratic Republic of Congo. According to the judges, the attack was part of a policy adopted by the Union des Patriotes Congolais/Forces Patriotiques pour la Libération du Congo (UPC/FPLC) to attack civilians perceived as non-Hema, such as those from the Lendu, Bira and Nande ethnic groups.

The Chamber also found that there was a non-international armed conflict between the UPC/FPLC and other armed groups in Ituri province between August 2002 and  December 2003. Ntaganda’s confirmation of charges hearings took place from February 10 to 14 this year. Some 69,000 pages of evidence were disclosed between the parties and submitted to the judges.

Ntaganda, 41, was commander of several militia groups in the DRC and was even at one time a general in the Congolese army. With two ICC arrest warrants out for him, Ntaganda gave himself up to the Court in March 2013. Thomas Lubanga, considered to have been Ntaganda’s boss in the FPLC, was sentenced in 2012 by the ICC to 14 years in jail for conscripting children under 15 and using them to fight.