UNITED NATIONS - The chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court says he is seeking arrest warrants for two warlords he says are responsible for crimes against humanity and war crimes in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Bosco Ntaganda, known as “the Terminator,” has been wanted by the court at The Hague since 2006 for recruiting child soldiers in the district of Ituri. The children were used to fight in Thomas Lubanga’s militia, known as the Union of Congolese Patriots or UPC.
ICC Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo told reporters Monday that it was the trial and recent conviction of Lubanga, on charges of recruiting child soldiers, that led to new evidence implicating Ntaganda in additional crimes. The prosecutor is seeking an expanded arrest warrant for those allegations.
“On the evidence collected during the Lubanga trial and the findings of the judges in the Lubanga judgment, the office requested expansion of the arrest warrant against Bosco Ntaganda, including the following crimes: crimes against humanity -- of murder, persecution based on ethnic grounds, rape, sexual slavery; and war crimes -- of intentionally attacking civilians, murder, rape, sexual slavery and pillaging,” said Moreno-Ocampo.
The prosecutor alleges that during the attacks, committed in 2002 and 2003, the UPC would encircle towns and villages of the Lendu and other tribes, shell them and then ethnically cleanse the areas by killing and raping civilians, forcing them to flee and looting their property.
The second warlord the court wants to arrest and bring to trial is Sylvestre Mudacumura, the supreme commander of a Rwandan Hutu militia, the FDLR (Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda). He is charged with five counts of crimes against humanity and nine counts of war crimes committed during 2009 to 2010 in Congo's North and South Kivu provinces. The charges include attacks against civilians, murder, mutilation, rape, torture, and destruction of property.
“We are pretty confident on our evidence," he said. "But the main issue will be if this request could contribute to establish peace and security in the Great Lakes region.”
Both men remain at large. Moreno-Ocampo said he would not try them in absentia, because the point is to arrest them so the crimes will stop, but it will be up to ICC judges to decide whether to issue the arrest warrants.
The eastern DRC has been plagued by continuing armed conflict and violence since the end of Congolese civil war in 2003. The area is home to many militia groups, including the Rwandan FDLR rebels, and efforts to integrate the groups into Congo’s army have largely failed.