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Bosco Ntaganda Preemptively Pleads Not Guilty to Congo Atrocities
Bosco Ntaganda, aka “The Terminator,” has in a surprise move voluntarily turned himself in to Hague court for international crimes. This is the guy who is one of the court’s most longstanding fugitives, known for leading rebels to terrorize the Congo in tribal warfare from 2002-2003, using child soldiers as well as ordering his rebels to slaughter the survivors of shelled villages with guns, machetes, spears, and knives during which women were allegedly raped and abducted into the slave trade. Ntaganda’s reply to the international criminal court, after the charges have been translated over his head set were
“I was informed of these crimes, but I plead not guilty,” as reported by The Guardian.
Judge Ekatarina Trendafilova told him he did not have to enter a plea at the hearing.
The actual case will begin September 23, when judges will decide whether the case should go to trial.
Ntaganda’s lawyer, Hassane Bel Lakhdar, meanwhile, wants him to be released in the meantime. “My client surrendered to the court voluntarily,” he said. “The charges against him right now are very significant, very serious and we must be given the possibility to meet and discuss directly with our client.”
The former leader of the rebels, Thomas Lubanga, was the first conviction of ICC and was sentenced to 14 year imprisonment. Ntaganda, meanwhile, was indicted in 2006, for using child soldiers, after which he joined the Congolese army until further charges regarding murder, rape, and sexual enslavement ended that career.