DRC war­lord ‘Ter­mi­na­tor’ breaks hunger strike at ICC

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Worldwide -

THE HAGUE — Con­golese for­mer rebel leader Bosco Nta­ganda has started eat­ing again af­ter an un­prece­dented nearly two-week hunger strike in his de­ten­tion cell in The Nether­lands, re­fus­ing to at­tend his war crimes trial.

The once-feared rebel leader from the Demo­cratic Re­pub­lic of Congo has not ap­peared in the court­room at the In­ter­na­tional Crim­i­nal Court in The Hague since Septem­ber 7.

“Mr Nta­ganda started eat­ing tonight,” his lawyer, Stephane Bour­gon, said in an email sent late on Tues­day.

Nta­ganda launched his hunger strike to protest against the con­di­tions of his de­ten­tion, in­clud­ing over fam­ily vis­its and his ac­cu­sa­tions that the court is not giv­ing him a fair trial.

“If every­thing goes well, his wife will be in The Hague from to­day and will be able to see Mr Nta­ganda in an al­most pri­vate set­ting, which meet (his) min­i­mum ex­pec­ta­tions,” Bour­gon said.

In a long, ram­bling, writ­ten state­ment from Septem­ber 13 seen by AFP, Nta­ganda said: “There is no pos­si­bil­ity that I will see my wife and chil­dren again un­der nor­mal con­di­tions.”

Once dubbed “The Ter­mi­na­tor”, Nta­ganda has de­nied 18 charges of war crimes and crimes against hu­man­ity aris­ing out of sav­age eth­nic at­tacks car­ried out in the DRC by his rebel Pa­tri­otic Forces for the Lib­er­a­tion of Congo (FPLC) in 2002-2003.

He is the first de­fen­dant be­fore the tri­bunal — set up in 2002 to try the world’s worst crimes — to ever go on hunger strike and his protest is vex­ing judges who have or­dered his trial must go on in his ab­sence.

Pros­e­cu­tors say Nta­ganda played a cen­tral role in the Ituri con­flict in the far north­east which rights groups be­lieve alone has left some 60 000 dead since 1999. — AP

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