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'Ready-to-die' former Congolese warlord shuns hunger strike, appears before ICC

'Ready-to-die' former Congolese warlord shuns hunger strike, appears before ICC

Democratic Republic Of Congo

Former Congolese warlord Bosco Ntaganda who said he was ready to die during a two-week hunger strike has appeared before the International Criminal Court where he is being tried for crimes against humanity.

He was present at the court for the continuation of his trial which proceeded with the hearing of a witness.

Ntaganda started his hunger strike to protest against his conditions of detention and accused the court of not granting him fair trial after the judges refused to lift restrictions on his access to the outside after concerns about alleged witness intimidation. He was absent at hearings since September 7.

“He resumed eating for two reasons: we have obtained leave to appeal the judges’ decision and we made arrangements for him to see his wife with a degree of privacy,” his legal team affirmed.

The Court repeated that his condition of detention did not prevent family visits.

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.

He is the first defendant ever to have begun a hunger strike in ICC prisons in the Netherlands.

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.

The conflict in north-eastern DRC, which involved the armies of at least six African nations in the region caused the death of three million people, according to NGOs.