Judges of the International Criminal Court handed over Congolese rebel leader Bosco & # 39; Terminator & # 39; Ntaganda Thursday 30 years imprisonment for war crimes, the highest sentence ever pronounced by the tribunal in The Hague.
Ntaganda was convicted in July of crimes such as murder, persecution and sexual slavery for a series of civilian massacres in the volatile, mineral-rich Ituri region of the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2002 and 2003.
Fighters who were loyal to him committed atrocities, such as a bloodbath in a banana field behind a village where at least 49 people, including children and babies, were stripped of their bodies or beaten with their heads.
Ntaganda was also responsible for the rape and sexual slavery of underage girls and for recruiting troops under the age of 15.
Judge Robert Flemr condemned the & # 39; multiple of crimes & # 39; Ntaganda was born in Rwandan and said to him: & the general sentence imposed on you will therefore be 30 years in prison & # 39 ;.
Congolese militia commander Bosco Ntaganda stands up today as judges enter the courtroom of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, the Netherlands. Ntaganda, born in Rwanda, was sentenced to 30 years in prison for directly ordering murder, persecution and sexual slavery during a series of massacres in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2002 and 2003
Rebel General Bosco Ntaganda laughs when he arrives at his mountain base on January 11, 2009 in Kabati, 25 miles northwest of the provincial capital Goma. Ntaganda was given a 30-year prison sentence in The Hague today for his direct role in massacres in 2002 and 2003. One of them was the brutal murder of 49 people by his soldiers in a banana field. Many of them had been taken off board or had their heads smashed. Women and children were among the dead
Former Congolese militia leader Bosco Ntaganda can be seen earlier today in the courtroom of the International Criminal Court in The Hague
General Bosco Ntaganda (second from the left in red beret) walks accompanied by his troops on January 11, 2009 at his mountain base in Kabati, northwest of the provincial capital Goma. Ntaganda had just declared itself the new leader of the National Committee for the Defense of the People (CNDP) and promised to integrate the militias into the national army
& # 39; Murder was committed on a large scale, & # 39; Flemr said, pronouncing judgment and saying that they had taken into account the & # 39; special cruelty & # 39; of some crimes of Ntaganda.
The judges gave him the maximum possible punishment allowed by the International Criminal Court in terms of the number of years, but said his crimes do not justify a full life sentence imprisoned for the most serious violations.
Bosco & # 39; The Terminator & # 39; Ntaganda can be seen in court sitting on the first day of his trial in 2015. The judge gave the warlord the maximum number of years he could. An ICC spokesperson said this was the highest sentence the court had ever pronounced
Ntaganda, dressed in a blue suit and shirt and with a red tie, stood motionless in the heavily secured courtroom as he listened through headphones while the verdict was being read.
A spokesperson for the ICC confirmed that this was the worst sentence ever pronounced by the court, which was instituted in 2002 to try the world's worst crimes.
Judges said the 46-year-old Ntaganda was the ruthless ruler of ethnic Tutsi revolts in the midst of the wars that raided the DRC after the Tutsis genocide in neighboring Rwanda in 1994.
They said that Ntaganda is a & # 39; important leader & # 39; belonged to the rebel group of the Union of Congolese Patriots and its military wing, the Patriotic Forces for the Liberation of Congo (FPLC).
Most charges related to two bloody operations by Ntaganda & # 39; s soldiers against civilians in rival villages in 2002 and 2003.
The court heard that frightened villagers told him & # 39; Terminator & # 39; after the Arnold Schwarzenegger movie about a merciless robotic killer.
In total, he was convicted for 13 counts of war crimes and five for crimes against humanity, and he became the first to be convicted of sexual slavery by the ICC.
Rebel General Ntaganda Bosco looks on January 11, 2009 at his mountain base in Kabati, 25 miles northwest of the provincial capital Goma
The president of the ICC, Robert Fremr, is preparing for the ruling earlier today for Congolese militia commander Bosco Ntaganda in the courtroom of the International Criminal Court in The Hague, the Netherlands. Ntaganda was the first suspect to voluntarily surrender to the ICC after entering the US Embassy in Kigali, Rwanda in 2013. He asked the staff there to send him to the court in the Netherlands
A map shows the northeastern province of Ituri in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where the atrocities Ntaganda was convicted of in July in 2002 and 2003 took place
He was also the first suspect to voluntarily surrender to the ICC after he entered the American embassy in the Rwandan capital of Kigali in 2013 and asked to be sent to court in the Netherlands.
The ICC judges heard separately from victims and witnesses in September to help them make a decision about the sentence.
More than 60,000 people have been killed since the violence in the Ituri region broke out in 1999 according to rights groups, while militia fight each other for control over scarce mineral resources.
Ntaganda – known for his pencil mustache and a taste for good food – told judges during his trial that he & # 39; soldier is not a criminal & # 39; and that the nickname & # 39; Terminator & # 39; did not apply to him.
After the Ituri conflict, Ntaganda was integrated into the Congolese army and was a general from 2007 to 2012, but subsequently became one of the founders of the M23 rebel group in a new uprising against the government.
The International Criminal Court, with chief judge Robert Fremr, in the middle of the back row
Prosecutors said that his decision to surrender himself to the ICC that year was based on self-preservation because he was in danger because of a feud in the group.
Ntaganda is one of the five Congolese warlords brought before the ICC, established in 2002 as an independent international body to prosecute those accused of & # 39; the world's worst crimes.
Former FPLC commander Thomas Lubanga of Ntaganda was sentenced in 2012 to 14 years in prison.
But the ICC has suffered a series of setbacks in recent years, with some of the most talked-about suspects roaming free, including former Ivorian leader Laurent Gbagbo earlier this year.
It has also been criticized because up to now it has mainly tried African suspects.
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