ICC postpones trial of DRC's 'Terminator' warlord

2015-07-03 21:24
Congolese warlord Bosco Ntaganda is seen during his first appearance before judges of the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands. (AFP)

Congolese warlord Bosco Ntaganda is seen during his first appearance before judges of the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands. (AFP)

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The Hague - The war crimes trial of Congolese former warlord Bosco Ntaganda, nicknamed "The Terminator", was postponed on Friday until September to give his lawyers a chance to prepare their case, the International Criminal Court said.

"Today the Trial Chamber... postponed the opening statements in the Ntaganda case to 2 to 4 September," the Hague-based court said in a statement.

Ntaganda's lawyers filed a request on Monday for a postponement, saying the "necessary conditions were not in place to ensure a fair trial".

The lawyers added they were not in a position to make an opening statement or question the prosecution's first witness, who will now take the stand on September 15.

Ntaganda, a feared ex-general with a penchant for cowboy hats, fine dining and a pencil moustache, faces 18 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The charges centre around the violence in the northern Ituri region of the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2002 and 2003 - when Ntaganda was leader of the Patriotic Forces for the Liberation of Congo.

The former warlord is accused of atrocities, including raping child and women soldiers from his own rebel army and keeping them as sex slaves.

Ntaganda, 41, was also the founder of the M23 rebel group, which was defeated by UN-backed government troops in November of 2013 in the mineral-rich Kivu region of the DRC.

Fighting in the country has killed more than 60 000 people since 1999.

Ntaganda is the first suspect to voluntarily surrender to the ICC. In March 2013, he walked into the US embassy in Rwanda and asked to be sent to The Hague.

A panel of ICC judges had recommended in March that the trial's opening statements be held in the city of Bunia in the DRC's northeast, in order to bring proceedings closer to the victims.

But the court said last month that "concerns over witnesses and victims' safety and well-being, as well as the security of the local communities involved", had been an important factor in deciding to hold the opening proceedings in The Hague instead.

Read more on:    icc  |  bosco ntaganda  |  drc  |  human rights

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