Evidence presented at the International Criminal Court trial of a rebel leader known as “The Terminator” proves his guilt on all 18 charges he faces for his alleged role in deadly attacks in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, prosecutors told judges Tuesday in their closing statement.
Rebel militia leader Bosco Ntaganda insists he is innocent of the charges, which include murder, rape and using child soldiers during attacks in the mineral-rich Ituri region of eastern Congo in 2002-2003. He faces a maximum sentence of life imprisonment if convicted.
Lawyers citing witness testimony from his trial, which has been underway for nearly three years, said Ntaganda was a powerful military commander who set an example for his troops to follow, including by murdering civilians.
Senior trial lawyer Nicole Samson told judges that “the overwhelming weight of credible evidence in this case leaves no reasonable doubt that Bosco Ntaganda is guilty of counts one through 18 with which he is charged.”
Ntaganda was first indicted in 2006, and was for years a symbol of impunity in Africa, once even serving as a general in Congo’s army before finally turning himself in in 2013 as his powerbase crumbled.
Prosecutors allege that he used child soldiers both as personal guards and sent them into battle, even buying small-sized boots for the underage soldiers.
Ntaganda testified in his own defense at trial, telling judges that he was a professional soldier who sought to protect civilians, not attack them.
However, prosecutors used elements of Ntaganda’s testimony against him Tuesday.
Lawyer Eric Iverson said that Ntaganda “by his own testimony, knew of the crimes committed” by forces under his command and failed to prevent, punish or investigate them.