February 10, 2014
Ex-Congolese Warlord Faces War Crimes Charges at International Court
Judges at the International Criminal Court are assessing whether there is enough evidence to try former Congolese general Bosco Ntaganda for war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Ntaganda was in the courtroom at The Hague Monday as prosecutors and defense lawyers made their opening statements.
Prosecutors have charged Ntaganda with 18 counts including murder, rape and the use of child soldiers in alleged atrocities during 2002 and 2003 in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.
Defense lawyers argue that there is not enough evidence to proceed to a trial.
Lawyer Marc Desaliers said prosecutors have no real case and are just trying to make one of the allegations stick.
"They are taking a ''shotgun approach" - they are shooting in all directions, hoping that they will hit something, but this does not match with a fair judicial procedure."
The hearings are expected to last several days.
Most recently, Ntaganda was considered a key leader of the rebel M23 group, which launched a major offensive against the Congolese government in 2012.
Ntaganda, thought to be in his early 40s, surrendered last year to the U.S. embassy in the Rwandan capital, Kigali. He denied the charges at an initial court hearing in March 2013.
Nicknamed "the terminator," Ntaganda became a general in the Congolese army in 2009 as part of a peace deal that integrated his rebel group into the military.
But he and many of his soldiers deserted in 2012 to form the M23 rebel group, which was later routed by the Congolese army.