ICC confirms $30 million reparations in DR Congo warlord case

Congolese militia commander Bosco Ntaganda is seen at the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands, in November 2019. [File, VOA]

The International Criminal Court on Friday confirmed a more than $30 million reparations package for thousands of victims of the Democratic Republic of the Congo warlord Bosco Ntaganda, including former child soldiers.

Named "the Terminator" for his reign of terror in the vast African country in the early 2000s, Ntaganda was jailed for 30 years in 2019 for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Judges afterward awarded $30.3 million in reparations, but last year ordered a review, saying the number of victims was unclear.

But on Friday "the chamber unanimously assesses Mr. Ntaganda's liability for reparations at USD $31,300,000," the Hague-based court said in a statement.

Although Ntaganda is liable for the payment, the ICC found that he did not have the funds, which would now be paid from the Trust Fund for Victims at the ICC.

Judges asked court officials to "continue exploring whether Mr. Ntaganda possessed any undiscovered assets" and monitor his finances "on an ongoing basis."

Judges added that based on available information, there were an estimated 7,500 direct and indirect victims of violent attacks, as well as 3,000 direct or indirect victims of crimes against child soldiers.

No financial amounts were given for specific victims, but payment would include about $11 million in socioeconomic support and $5 million for mental care resulting from "psychological harm" suffered during the attacks.

Rehabilitation of former child soldiers was estimated at roughly $4,000 per person.

The ICC in 2021 upheld a 30-year sentence on appeal for war crimes against Ntaganda.

"The chamber reiterates that Mr. Ntaganda's conviction is final and his liability to repair the harm caused to the victims of his crimes is under no discussion," the judges stressed in Friday's order.

"The chamber will continue striving to advance these reparation proceedings in the most efficient and effective manner possible ... ensuring that the victims of his crimes receive the reparations they are entitled to, and for which they have waited for more than two decades, without further delay," they said.

The Rwandan-born Ntaganda, 49, was convicted of 18 counts of crimes against humanity and war crimes, including murder, sexual slavery, rape, and using child soldiers.

Ntaganda was the first person to be convicted of sexual slavery by the court.

Many of the other charges related to massacres of villagers in the mineral-rich Ituri region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

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