Bosco Ntaganda war crimes, sentenced to 30 years in DR Congo.

The International Criminal Court sentenced Bosco Ntaganda, a former Congolese warlord known as “The Terminator,” to 30 years in prison Thursday for war crimes and crimes against humanity. It was the longest of the four sentences the ICC has handed down since its creation in 2002.

The three-judge panel, which convicted Ntaganda in July on 18 counts, said it looked for mitigating factors in the 46-year-old militant’s record of murder and indirect perpetration of crimes including sexual slavery, child rape, use of child soldiers, murder, and the massacre of civilians. Instead, the judges found only aggravating circumstances, including the “particular cruelty” of several crimes, the “defenselessness of some of the victims,” and Ntaganda’s decision to personally murder victims, including a Catholic priest, in front of the soldiers he led as a high-ranking commander.

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Ntaganda, who is from Rwanda, has fought in rebel groups and national armies in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda, but he was convicted of actions he took as a deputy to Thomas Lubanga, leader of the Patriotic Forces for the Liberation of Congo rebel group; the ICC convicted Lubanga in 2012 of using child soldiers and sentenced him to 14 years. Ntaganda was also a founding member of the rebel group M23. He was indicted by the ICC in 2006 and surrendered in 2013 at the U.S. Embassy in Rwanda after he lost a power struggle in M23.

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“Bosco Ntaganda’s 30-year sentence sends a strong message that even people considered untouchable may one day be held to account,” said Ida Sawyer, deputy director of Human Rights Watch’s Africa division. “While his victims’ pain cannot be erased, they can take some comfort in seeing justice prevail.”

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