July 14, 2012 / 7:49 AM / 7 years ago

Hague court seeks arrests for DRC's Kivus conflicts

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - The International Criminal Court on Friday issued a new arrest warrant for Congolese general Bosco Ntaganda, for alleged war crimes including murder, rape and sexual slavery.

General Bosco Ntaganda addresses a news conference in Kabati, a village located in Congo's eastern North Kivu province, January 8, 2009. REUTERS/Abdul Ndemere

Ntaganda is already wanted by the Hague-based war crimes court for conscripting child fighters in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

The court said the new warrant was for suspected war crimes and crimes against humanity in the DRC’s Kivu provinces, a mineral-rich area plagued by long-running conflict, between September 2002 and September 2003.

“There are reasonable grounds to believe that Bosco Ntaganda is responsible for three counts of crimes against humanity, consisting in murder, rape and sexual slavery, and persecution,” the court said in a statement.

“Bosco Ntaganda allegedly bears individual criminal responsibility for four counts of war crimes consisting of murder, attacks against the civilian population, rape and sexual slavery, and pillaging,” it added.

The ICC has sought Ntaganda’s arrest for six years on charges that he conscripted children to fight in a bloody ethnic conflict in northeastern Congo that grew out of a broader civil war. Ntaganda denies involvement in war crimes.

The court also issued an arrest warrant on Friday for Sylvestre Mudacumura, the leader of the FDLR (Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda) militia operating in the Kivu provinces, saying he was suspected of war crimes between January 2009 and September 2010 in the area.

“There are reasonable grounds to believe that Mr Mudacumura is responsible for nine counts of war crimes, consisting of attacking civilians, murder, mutilation, cruel treatment, rape, torture, destruction of property, pillaging and outrages against personal dignity,” the court said in a statement.

The leaders of the mostly ethnic Hutu FDLR fled from Rwanda to Congo after Rwanda’s 1994 genocide, in which 800,000 people died, mostly ethnic Tutsis.

The group played a major role in Congo’s 1998-2003 conflict, in which 5 million people died, and has continued mass rapes, torture and killing.

This week, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda and neighbouring states called for the creation of an international military force to eliminate armed rebels in the DRC’s turbulent east.

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