THE HAGUE — African warlord Bosco Ntaganda was taken from the US Embassy in Rwanda on Friday and put on a flight to The Hague, where he faces trial at the International Criminal Court on charges including murder, rape, and persecution in a rebel group’s deadly reign of terror that gripped eastern Congo a decade ago.
Ntaganda was due to arrive late Friday night, nearly seven years after he was first indicted. His transfer was hailed as a crucial step in bringing to justice one of Africa’s most notorious warlords. It was also a relief to a court that last year acquitted another rebel leader accused of atrocities in Congo.
Nicknamed ‘‘The Terminator’’ because of his reputation for ruthlessness in battle, Ntaganda became a symbol of impunity in Africa, at times playing tennis in eastern Congo, apparently without fear of arrest.
Secretary of State John Kerry called the transfer ‘‘an important moment for all who believe in justice and accountability.
‘‘For nearly seven years, Ntaganda was a fugitive from justice, evading accountability for alleged violations of international humanitarian law and mass atrocities against innocent civilians, including rape, murder, and the forced recruitment of thousands of Congolese children as soldiers,’’ Kerry said. ‘‘Now there is hope that justice will be done.’’
Ntaganda is believed to have turned himself in after becoming vulnerable when his M23 rebel group split into two camps last month over the decision to bow to international pressure and withdraw from Goma late last year.