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Former Congolese warlord on hunger strike, tells ICC he is 'ready to die'

Former Congolese warlord on hunger strike, tells ICC he is 'ready to die'

Netherlands

Former Congolese warlord Bosco Ntaganda who is being tried by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity has began a hunger strike in protest against his prison conditions.

His lawyer, Stephane Bourgon read Bosco Ntaganda’s statement in the court on Tuesday which says he is “feeling weak” and he is “ready to die”.

“When I decided to come here voluntarily over three years ago, I thought I could defend myself, but I know now that this is not the case, there is no way out and I have no hope,” Bosco Ntaganda’s lawyer read.

When I decided to come here voluntarily over three years ago, I thought I could defend myself, but I know now that this is not the case, there is no way out and I have no hope.

“I have no hope of seeing my wife and kids in normal conditions, that is why I am prepared to die,” he added.

It was unclear exactly when the former rebel began his hunger strike.

His statement is in reaction to the refusal by the judges last week to lift the restrictions on his access to the outside after concerns about alleged witness intimidation.

The judges assured that the prison conditions of detention does not prevent family visits and rejected a defense request to adjourn the trial until Monday and ordered a medical examination. The hearings will resume on Wednesday.

Ntaganda is accused of thirteen war crimes and five crimes against humanity, including murder, looting, attacks against civilians, rape and sexual slavery committed by his troops in 2002-2003 in Ituri, in the northeast of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

A General in the Congolese army between 2007 and 2012, the “Terminator” was the most wanted fugitive in the Great Lakes region until he unexpectedly showed up at the US Embassy in Kigali, Rwanda, in March 2013, to request his transfer to the ICC.