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ICC Arrest Warrant Out for Fourth Congolese War Crimes Suspect

The International Criminal Court has unsealed a warrant for the arrest of a fourth Congolese militia leader on war crimes charges. Tendai Maphosa has more in this report from London.

Bosco Ntaganda is also known as The Terminator. He is alleged to have committed war crimes of enlistment and conscription of children under the age of 15 as rebel fighters.

The alleged crimes occurred in the Democratic Republic of Congo's Ituri region from July 2002 until December 2003.

The warrant was issued in 2006, but was not made public. ICC spokesman Pascal Turlan explained why it took almost two years to have it published.

"The practice in general is that we issue arrest warrants under seal to make sure that the person will be arrested and then we unseal the warrants at the time of the arrest of the person so far it has not been possible to arrest Mr. Bosco Ntaganda with the arrest warrant under seal so we have decided that after one year and a half it was time to unseal it to try to find other solutions to obtain the arrest the person," said Turlan.

A statement issued by the ICC says Ntaganda, as former Deputy Chief of General Staff for Military Operations of the Patriotic Front for the Liberation of the Congo (FPLC), had authority over the militia's training camp commanders. It says he forcibly recruited and used children to actively participate in hostilities.

The Patriotic Front for the Liberation of the Congo fought against other militia groups from 1999 until 2003. Turlan says one of the reasons for the fighting was the control over natural resources. An estimated 50,000 people were killed and hundreds of thousands left homeless in the area where Ntaganda's militia operated.

The ICC calls for the authorities in the DRC and other countries, with the support of the international community, to arrest Ntaganda, who is suspected to still be in Congo, and facilitate his surrender to the court.

The ICC's Turlan says more suspected Congolese war criminals are likely to be indicted.

"We are working on the opening of a third investigation in the DRC with arrest warrants expected in the course of this third investigation," added Turlan.

The warrant is the fourth issued by the ICC for suspected war criminals in the DRC. Thomas Lubanga Dyilo, Germain Katanga and Mathieu Ndgudjolo Chui are already in custody in The Hague.