Congolese warlord Ntaganda jailed 30 years by ICC

Clay Curtis
November 9, 2019

The International Criminal Court (ICC) on Thursday sentenced Congolese former rebel leader Bosco Ntaganda to 30 years in prison after he was convicted earlier this year of war crimes and sexual slavery.

Since the Chamber considered that the conditions warranting life imprisonment were not met, and because in such a situation the total period of imprisonment may not exceed 30 years in accordance with the Rome Statute, the Chamber considered that it had no further discretion in the determination of the overall joint sentence.

Prosecutors said his decision to hand himself in to the ICC that year was based on self-preservation as he was in danger because of a feud in the group.

Al Jazeera's Catherine Soi has more from Goma in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.

Physicians for Human Rights said the sentencing set an important precedent.

Aid groups have called the conflicts in Congo the world's deadliest since World War II.

Anneke Van Woudenberg, executive director of corporate watchdog Raid, said Ntaganda was a brutal warlord who led from the front, often killing, raping and torturing civilians himself.

Ntaganda was convicted of several atrocities including murder, rape and conscripting child soldiers.

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Ntaganda testified for weeks in his own defense, saying he wanted to put the record straight about his reputation as a ruthless military leader.

Judges found that Ntaganda was a "key leader" in terms of planning and operations for the Union of Congolese Patriots rebel group and its military wing, the Patriotic Forces for the Liberation of Congo (FPLC).

In 2012 Lubanga became the first person to be convicted by the ICC and was sentenced to 14 years.

He told the defendant there were no real mitigating circumstance in his case, but said his crimes, "despite their gravity and his degree of culpability", did not merit a life sentence. He has already lodged an appeal against his sentence.

The judges ruled that Ntaganda had personally killed a Catholic priest while the fighters he commanded ran rampage in the region.

It was something of a victory for the victims, particularly the women, that the court recognised gender violence and acknowledged rape as a weapon of war. The court said in a statement that "issues related to the procedure for victims' reparations will be addressed in due course".

Ntaganda's sentence is a rare success for prosecutors at the ICC, an worldwide court set up in 2002 to prosecute war crimes and crimes against humanity when member states are either unable or unwilling to do so. It has faced opposition and criticism, most notably from the United States, which is not a member state of the court.

© Peter Dejong/AP View of the International Criminal Court, or ICC, in The Hague.

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