congoBosco Ntaganda, a former Congolese rebel commander who started a hunger strike last week to protest the conditions of his detention at the International Criminal Court (ICC) told judges on 12 September 2016 « I am ready to die ».

 He faces charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity for atrocities committed by his troops in the DRC in 2002-2003.

 « I have no possibility to see my wife and children again under normal conditions. This is the reason I have lost all hope. This is why I am ready to die, » Ntaganda said in a statement read out by his defence lawyer.

 Ntaganda further instructed his lawyer to no longer represent him and cease all legal actions on his behalf. The  panel of comprised of three judges was considering the statement.

 He stopped eating last week to protest restrictions on his phone calls and visitation rights which have been in place since 2014 due to concerns he was trying to interfere with witnesses.

 The ex-Congolese rebel leader participated in hearings on 12 September 2016 via a video-link from the ICC’s detention unit after a medical report the same morning concluded he was not well enough to be transported to the courtroom.

Dubbed “Terminator”    due to the brutalities of his methods during his many years of fighting in various armed groups operating in eastern DRC, Ntaganda started his military career in Rwanda when he joined the Rwandan Patriotic Front during the 1994 genocide. He later joined the Patriotic Forces for the Liberation of Congo (FPLC) serving as second-in-command of the negative movement, before surrendering in 2013.

He faces 13 counts of war crimes and five counts of crimes against humanity relating to two attacks against the non-Hema population in the Ituri province. The charges include murder, rape, sexual slavery and the use of child soldiers.

With Reuters