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.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
CSKA Moscow celebrate after equalising with a late penalty

Arts and Entertainment
Life and Style

Company reveals $542m investment in start-up building 'a rocket ship for the mind'

Bourgogne wine maker Laboure-Roi vice president Thibault Garin (L) offers the company's 2013 Beaujolais Nouveau wine to the guest in the wine spa at the Hakone Yunessun spa resort facilities in Hakone town, Kanagawa prefecture, some 100-kilometre west of Tokyo
Arts and Entertainment
James Blunt's debut album Back to Bedlam shot him to fame in 2004

Singer says the track was 'force-fed down people's throats'

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

IT Project Manager

Competitive: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Chelmsford a...

Business Intelligence Specialist - work from home

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

Business Intelligence Specialist - work from home

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

IT Manager

£40000 - £45000 per annum + pension, healthcare,25 days: Ashdown Group: An est...

Day In a Page

Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Let's talk about loss

We need to talk about loss

Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album