Trial of "Terminator Tango" brings back bitter memories of Rwanda genocide

Rwanda genocide Photograph:( Others )

Delhi, India Jun 19, 2017, 10.30 AM (IST) Inga Mzileni

Bosco Ntaganda AKA Terminator Tango as he is known to his victims and supporters is seeking to convince the International Criminal Court that he is an innocent warlord. In his testimony at the ICC in Hague, Netherlands, the 43-year-old, Rwandan-born Bosco ruled the country's war-torn eastern parts for years with his iron fist. He is intimately associated with what would become the 1994 Rwandan genocide, which left 80,000 dead, displaced thousands more and left a deep wound that still torments the victims of his crimes.

He reportedly said to the ICC that the Rwanda genocide has left a deep impact on him and he has vowed to do everything he could to prevent "it happening again".

In almost 2 years after his trial opened, Bosco Ntaganda took stand for the first time to talk about the events of 2002 and 2003 when his rebel forces rampaged through neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo's gold-rich Ituri province, murdering and raping civilians and plundering their possessions. In his defense, Ntaganga told the International Criminal Court that he was a young soldier in the Ugandan-backed Rwandan army during the country's genocide.

"I was young, but was already in the Army and was a soldier."

He claims to have lost members of his family during the horrific events of genocide against the Tutsi ethnic group.

The Terminator Tango is facing 13 charges of war crimes and five counts of crimes against humanity committed by his Patriotic Forces for the Liberation of Congo (FPLC). This militia was drawn from the Hema ethnic group, which according to ICC prosecutors was targeted at the Lendu and other non-Hema groups.

ICC chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda during the first trial in 2015 said that Ntaganda was one of the most important commanders involved in the savage ethnic attacks. The ex-rebel leader is charged with ordering hundreds of those deaths.

For a man charged with leading an ethnic war that engulfed the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo for two decades and spiraled to encompass armies from 6 African nations, his defense team claims to have 109 witnesses and four experts who could turn around his image as a merciless warlord.

Accusing Bosco of bribing witnesses, prosecutors have imposed tight restrictions on him. In response to that Ntaganda went on a two-week hunger strike last year. He had been evading arrest by the International Criminal Court until eventually turning himself over to the US embassy in Kigali in 2013. 

Bosco's case follows that of his former rebel leader, warlord Thomas Lubanga who was sentenced to 14 years in jail in 2012 on similar charges in the International Criminal Court's first conviction since it opened in 2002.

Bosco's trial is significant not only for thousands of victims who await justice for their families, the outcome of his trial is significant also to other active war criminals group in Congo and around the world.

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