Wed, May 16, 2012 - Page 6 News List

Hague prosecutor seeks warrants for Congo war crimes

WANTED:Kinshasa hailed the warrant for Sylvestre Mudacumura, but said it wanted its own courts to decide if the ICC should get Bosco Ntaganda

Reuters, AMSTERDAM

The Hague war crimes prosecutor announced new charges on Monday against a Democratic Republic of the Congo (DR Congo) general accused of conscripting child fighters and an arrest warrant for a militia leader.

Luis Moreno-Ocampo of the International Criminal Court (ICC) said he has asked for additional charges to be filed against Bosco Ntaganda, who is wanted in The Hague for war crimes, and has requested an arrest warrant for Sylvestre Mudacumura, the leader of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) militia operating in the Kivu provinces in the DR Congo.

“Both arrests would be instrumental to making peace in the Great Lakes area. The two men are leaders of the two groups fighting here so their arrest would have a huge impact,” Moreno-Ocampo said.

Lambert Mende, the DR Congo’s minister of communications and government spokesman, welcomed the warrant for Mudacumura and said the nation was seeking to arrest Ntanganda on extremely serious charges.

“We intend to judge him [Ntaganda] ourselves, however, the courts will decide whether to transfer him to the international tribunal,” Mende said by telephone from Kinshasa on Monday.

Last month, Congolese President Joseph Kabila said the authorities would arrest serving Ntaganda, who is wanted for crimes committed during the 1998 to 2003 conflict.

The ICC has sought Ntaganda’s arrest for six years on charges he conscripted children to fight in a bloody ethnic conflict in the northeastern DR Congo. Ntaganda denies involvement in war crimes.

The ICC prosecutor said he would press additional charges of crimes against humanity of murder, persecution based on ethnic grounds, and rape or sexual slavery, as well as war crimes, including intentional attacks against civilians and murder.

The prosecutor said he has requested an arrest warrant for Mudacumura, describing him as a leader of one of the most active militia in the Kivu provinces who launched a campaign of attacks against the civilian populations in the area.

Mudacumura is charged with five counts of crimes against humanity — murder, inhumane acts, rape, torture and persecution — as well as nine counts of war crimes including attacks against a civilian population, murder and mutilation.

The alleged crimes were committed by the FDLR-FOCA between Jan. 20, 2009, and Aug. 31, 2010, the prosecutor said.

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