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
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
Voices
Ed Miliband and David Cameron are neck and neck in the polls
election 2015Armando Iannucci: on how British politics is broken
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Billie Piper as Brona in Penny Dreadful
tvReview: It’s business as usual in Victorian London. Let’s hope that changes as we get further into the new series spoiler alert
Life and Style
A nurse tends to a recovering patient on a general ward at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham
health
News
science
Arts and Entertainment
No Offence
tvReview: No Offence has characters who are larger than life and yet somehow completely true to life at the same time spoiler alert
News
Chuck Norris pictured in 1996
people
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Lucas, I SCREAM DADDIO, Installation View, British Pavilion 2015
artWhy Sarah Lucas is the perfect choice to represent British art at the Venice Biennale
News
A voter placing a ballot paper in the box at a polling station
i100
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
The Queen (Kristin Scott Thomas) in The Audience
theatreReview: Stephen Daldry's direction is crisp in perfectly-timed revival
Sport
football
  • Get to the point
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

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Dublin

£13676.46 - £16411.61 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment Cons...

Ashdown Group: Marketing or Business Graduate Opportunity - Norwich - £22,000

£18000 - £22000 per annum + training: Ashdown Group: Business and Marketing Gr...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Are you great at building rela...

Ashdown Group: Database Analyst - Birmingham - £22,000 plus benefits

£20000 - £22000 per annum + excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Application Sup...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power