Congolese war criminal Bosco 'The Terminator' Ntaganda unexpectedly turns himself in at US embassy in Rwanda

 

One of Africa's most wanted war criminals walked into the United States embassy in Rwanda today and asked to be transferred to the International Criminal Court at The Hague. The US said it was “considering his request” after Bosco Ntaganda, nicknamed the “Terminator” appeared on their doorstep in Rwanda's capital, Kigali.

Mr Ntaganda appears to have fled his base in Eastern Congo and sought refuge at the US embassy after a recent split in the armed rebellion of which he has been a commander. One faction of the M23 rebels, who are in peace talks with the government of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), is believed to be close to a peace deal and has been openly battling with fighters loyal to the indicted war crimes suspect. Mr Ntaganda's followers fled across the border into Rwanda in recent days as a rival faction took control of M23.

News of his “surrender” as Rwanda's Foreign Minister, Louise Mushikiwabo termed it on her Twitter account, surprised diplomats in Kigali.

“He's a man with few options,” said one Western diplomat. “He may have seen this as his safest course of action.”

The US will now have to decide whether to transfer the former general in the Congolese army to The Hague, or whether to hand him over to the authorities in the DRC. US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland tonight confirmed that he had walked into their embassy of his own free will: "He specifically asked to be transferred to the ICC in the Hague,” she told reporters. “We are currently consulting with a number of governments, including the Rwandan government, in order to facilitate his request."

It is not known how long he had been in Rwanda but a witness in Kigali claimed they saw him pull up at the embassy in a taxi.

Born in Rwanda but having grown up in neighbouring Congo, Mr Ntaganda faces a litany of charges at The Hague, including recruiting child soldiers, sex slavery, murder and pillaging. The ICC issued arrest warrants against him in 2006 over crimes related to crimes committed in Eastern Congo in 2002-2003. He has since been named in a number of UN reports detailing the recruitment of child soldiers and attacks on the civilian population while serving in both the Congolese army and at least two armed rebellions.

Mr Ntaganda has been at the heart of a regional battle for control of resource-rich Eastern Congo in which ethnic Tutsi military commanders – with the backing of Rwanda and Uganda – have vied for control with the weak and corrupt Congolese army, the FARDC. Previous peace deals, such as the one in 2008 which ended a Tutsi-led movement calling itself the CNDP, have tended to fold rebel leaders back into the FARDC. The former warlord and CNDP Laurent Nkunda has been living in Rwanda since that deal under a loose form of house arrest.

The M23 movement which announced itself last year was led by former CNDP commanders who claimed that the peace deal had not been honoured.

With support from the Rwandan army – detailed in a UN report last year to the Security Council – the M23 quickly overwhelmed the Congolese army and UN peacekeepers and briefly occupied the regional aid and trading hub of Goma. The rebels have since withdrawn and endured a bitter split with one faction led by Mr Ntaganda and the other by his long-time rival Sultan Makengi. Mr Makengi is believed to be amenable to a peace deal with Congolese President Joseph Kabila, with talks being held in neighbouring Uganda.

Rwanda has hotly denied UN accusations that it had “command and control” of the M23 but the evidence was strong enough to persuade several Western governments including Britain to withhold development aid, which amounts to 40 percent of the country's national budget.

That aid has recently resumed as Rwanda's President Paul Kagame has cooperated in the regional peace process.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Voices
There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm tomorrow
Arts and Entertainment
Mark Wright has won The Apprentice 2014
tvThe Apprentice 2014 final
Arts and Entertainment
X Factor winner Ben Haenow has scored his first Christmas number one
music
News
i100
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
News
news
News
Elton John and David Furnish will marry on 21 December 2014
peopleSinger posts pictures of nuptials throughout the day
Arts and Entertainment
James May, Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond in the Top Gear Patagonia Special
tv
News
File: James Woods attends the 52nd New York Film Festival at Walter Reade Theater on September 27, 2014
peopleActor was tweeting in wake of NYPD police shooting
News
Claudia Winkleman and co-host Tess Daly at the Strictly Come Dancing final
people
Extras
indybest
News
peopleLiam Williams posted photo of himself dressed as Wilfried Bony
Sport
Martin Skrtel heads in the dramatic equaliser
SPORTLiverpool vs Arsenal match report: Bandaged Martin Skrtel heads home in the 97th-minute
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Telesales & Customer Service Executives - Outbound & Inbound

£7 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Are you outgoing? Do you want to work in...

Recruitment Genius: National Account Manager / Key Account Sales

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for a...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Manager

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join...

Recruitment Genius: Recruitment Consultant

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We have an excellent role for a...

Day In a Page

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'
Marian Keyes: The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment

Marian Keyes

The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef creates an Italian-inspired fish feast for Christmas Eve

Bill Granger's Christmas Eve fish feast

Bill's Italian friends introduced him to the Roman Catholic custom of a lavish fish supper on Christmas Eve. Here, he gives the tradition his own spin…
Liverpool vs Arsenal: Brendan Rodgers is fighting for his reputation

Rodgers fights for his reputation

Liverpool manager tries to stay on his feet despite waves of criticism
Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
Michael Calvin: Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick