A Congolese militia leader widely known as “The Terminator” has gone on trial at the International Criminal Court in The Hague.
Bosco Ntaganda is charged with recruiting child soldiers and organising a campaign of ethnically-motivated rape and murder.
As his trial opened, chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda told the court: “Ntaganda is here before you because of his role in pursuing a campaign of violence and terror
against civilians and children for more than a year.”
Ntaganda, who commanded the United of Congolese Patriots (UPC) militia, had “failed to prevent or punish crimes by troops under his effective command or control,” she said.
Prosecutors also told judges that Ntaganda had committed the crimes over a decade ago while leading fighters of Hema ethnicity to drive ethnic Lendus out of the mineral-rich Ituri region in the northeast of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
But defence lawyers responded that the Ituri conflict had not had the ethnic character prosecutors were ascribing to it.
The trial is being seen as a test for the court after a string of troubled cases.
Ntaganda could face life imprisonment if convicted and has yet to enter a plea.