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US Says Wanted Congo General At Embassy in Rwanda

FILE - Indicted war criminal Bosco Ntaganda poses for a photograph during an interview with Reuters in Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo, October 5, 2010.
The U.S. State Department says Bosco Ntaganda, a Congolese general wanted for alleged war crimes, has turned himself in at the U.S. Embassy in Rwanda.

State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland announced Ntaganda's surrender at a briefing in Washington Monday.

“I can confirm that this morning Bosco Ntaganda, an ICC indictee and leader of one of the M23 factions, walked into U.S. Embassy Kigali," said Nuland. "He specifically asked to be transferred to the ICC in the Hague. We are currently consulting with a number of governments, including the Rwandan government, to facilitate his request.”

Nuland added that to her knowledge, the U.S. had no prior discussions with Ntaganda before his appearance at the embassy in Kigali on Monday.

A Congolese government spokesman, Lambert Mende, told VOA that Congo would prefer Ntaganda to be tried in Kinshasa but added that the most important thing is that justice prevails.

"Of course we would prefer him to be handed over to our justice system, but we know that international justice is in the position of [prosecuting] him," said Mende. "So he can be handed over to Kinshasa or he can be handed over to the Hague. There is no problem for us."

Ntaganda has been indicted by the International Criminal Court on seven counts of war crimes and three counts of crimes against humanity.

The ICC says that as leader of a militia in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, he was criminally responsible for the use of child soldiers and acts of murder, rape and sexual slavery.

The ICC bureau spokesperson in Kinshasa, Paul Mamadi, says Ntaganda will receive a fair trial.

"We will contact shortly US authorities to have a quick transfer to the ICC," said Mamadi. "There are two warrants against Bosco Ntaganda but he will receive a fair and transparent trial."

Ntaganda was more recently associated with the DRC rebel group M23. In New York Monday, the United Nations said his faction of the group was routed by a rival faction, which prompted up to 600 Congolese combatants and civilians to cross into Rwanda.

Rwandan Foreign Minister Louise Mushikiwabo first announced Ntaganda's surrender Monday on her Twitter account.