International Criminal Court judges on Monday convicted Congolese rebel chief Bosco “Terminator” Ntaganda of war crimes including directing massacres of civilians and rape, in a badly-needed victory for prosecutors in The Hague.
Ntaganda, 45, was a “key leader” who gave orders to “target and kill civilians” in Democratic Republic of Congo’s volatile, mineral-rich Ituri region in 2002 and 2003, head judge Robert Fremr said.
The atrocities included a massacre at a village where people included children and babies were disembowelled or had their heads smashed in, the judge said.
Ntaganda was also responsible for the rape and sexual slavery of underage girls, and of recruiting troops under the age of 15, as well as guilty of personally killing a Roman Catholic priest, the court said.
Ntaganda “fulfilled a very important military function, he was one of the key leaders” of the rebel group, judges said, adding that “Mr Ntaganda’s skills were held in high regard.”
“In relation to these direct orders to target and kill civilians, Mr Ntaganda endorsed criminal conduct by his by own orders.”
Ntaganda will be sentenced at a later date after judges hear submissions from victims. Judges can give a life sentence.