Congolese 'Terminator' warlord gets harshest ever ICC sentence

Congolese militia commander Bosco Ntaganda has been jailed

In July, a three-judge bench found Ntaganda guilty on all 18 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in the mineral-rich north-eastern region of Ituri between 2002 and 2003.

Child soldiers also were raped by Ntaganda's troops and forced into sexual slavery, leaving them with lasting physical and psychological scars.

Rwandan-born Ntaganda, who wore a dark suit and red tie for the hearing, showed no emotion as he was handed his sentence on Thursday.

Judges may chose to impose a life sentence instead, but in their ruling the judges said because numerous individual crimes involve overlapping conduct, they did not warrant a life sentence.

During the sentencing, Fremr said that Ntaganda was not only guilty of persecution as a crime against humanity, but that he had also personally murdered a Catholic priest, setting an example for his soldiers to follow.

"Murder was committed on a large scale, ' Flemr said as he passed sentence, saying they had taken the 'particular cruelty" of some of Ntaganda's crimes into account.

President Donald Trump's former national security adviser, John Bolton, previous year said the USA wouldn't cooperate with the court, adding that "for all intents and purposes, the ICC is already dead to us".

Ntaganda, 46, appealed his conviction.

The conviction for sexual slavery is the first in the ICC's history.

"They further stressed that the Court's sentence against Bosco Ntaganda at a time when we are witnessing a unsafe disregard for fundamental rights and global legal norms and standards in many parts of the world, sends a strong message, in the region and globally, that sooner or later those who commit, incite or condone atrocities will be held accountable".

He was the deputy chief of staff and commander of operations for rebel group the Patriotic Forces for the Liberation of Congo.

The court in The Hague said Thursday in its ruling that judges determined individual sentences for each count, which if added together would total 218 years in prison.

"Men, women, and children and babies were found in the field".

Ntaganda surrendered to the US embassy in the Rwandan capital Kigali in 2013, after eluding capture for seven years.

The ICC was set up in 2002 as an independent global body to prosecute those accused of the world's worst crimes where national authorities were incapable of bringing perpetrators to justice.

More than 60 000 people have been killed since the violence erupted in Ituri region in 1999 according to rights groups, as militias battled each other for control of scarce mineral resources.

After the Ituri conflict, Ntaganda was integrated into the Congolese army and was a general from 2007 to 2012, but then became a founding member of the M23 rebel group in a new uprising against the government.

Ntaganda was also the first suspect to voluntarily surrender to the court, but judges were not convinced he'd done the honourable thing.

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