By NAN


The war crimes trial of Congolese former warlord Bosco Ntaganda, nicknamed “The Terminator”, will open on July 7 in The Hague, the International Criminal Court said Tuesday.

Opening statements will be held on July 7 and 8, with a possibility of extension, the ICC said.terminator

Ntaganda, the feared ex-general with a penchant for cowboy hats, pencil moustaches and fine dining, faces 18 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The charges centre around the violence in the northern Ituri region of the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2002 and 2003 — during which Ntaganda was leader of the Patriotic Forces for the Liberation of Congo.

The former warlord is accused of atrocities such as raping child and women soldiers and keeping them as sex slaves.

Ntaganda was also the founder of the M23 rebel group, which was defeated by UN-backed government troops in November of 2013 in the mineral-rich Kivu region of the DR Congo.

Fighting in the country, exacerbated by the mineral wealth in the region, has killed more than 60,000 people since 1999.

Ntaganda is the first suspect to voluntarily surrender to the ICC. In March 2013, he walked into the US embassy in Rwanda and asked to be sent to the Hague.

A panel of ICC judges had recommended in March that the trial’s opening statements be held in the city of Bunia in the DR Congo’s northeast, in order to bring proceedings closer to the victims.

But the court said Monday that “concerns over witnesses and victims’ safety and well-being, as well as the security of the local communities involved”, had been an important factor in deciding to hold the opening proceedings in The Hague instead.

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