UCLA law students locate compound of Congolese militia leader wanted by the ICC
Bosco Ntaganda unexpectedly spotted in the town of Goma
"If our group from UCLA Law could stumble upon Ntaganda and locate his compound, then the Congolese government and the intelligence services of Western countries have surely located him as well."
By Lauri Gavel for UCLA Newsroom
A UCLA law professor and six of his students have located Bosco Ntaganda, wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) on war crimes charges, and obtained video of his compound.
Ntaganda, also known as "the Terminator," is alleged to have led a militia in the Democratic Republic of the Congo that massacred civilians and forcibly conscripted child soldiers. In 2008, the ICC issued a warrant for his arrest, charging Ntaganda with war crimes for conscription of child soldiers. He remains at large and is alleged to violently control much of the conflict minerals trade in Eastern Congo. Ntaganda was a close associate of Thomas Lubanga Dyilo, who was found guilty by the ICC today of recruiting and deploying child soldiers during a five-year conflict until 2003. An estimated 60,000 people were killed in the violence, part of much wider bloodshed in central Africa.
The group from UCLA School of Law, supported by the Sanela Diana Jenkins Rights Project, unexpectedly spotted Ntaganda in the Eastern Congolese town of Goma. Ntaganda was traveling on one of the town’s main roads in a convoy of three heavily armed jeeps, one with a mounted heavy caliber machine gun and the other two with soldiers carrying automatic weapons and rocket-propelled grenade launchers.
After investigating, the group located what several reliable sources identified as Ntaganda’s compound on Avenue des Tulipiés, about 100 yards from the Rwandan border. The sources said that Ntaganda lives in the compound, which also serves as his operational headquarters, and speculated that the location was chosen by Ntaganda to facilitate escape into Rwanda if an arrest attempt were made. One source said that six houses between the Ntaganda compound and the border were controlled by him, facilitating his smuggling conflict minerals into Rwanda. A clandestine video taken from the street shows the compound and some of Ntaganda’s soldiers on guard duty.
UCLA Law Professor Richard Steinberg, a member of the faculty advisory board for the UCLA Burkle Center for International Relations and director of the Sanela Diana Jenkins Human Rights Project, led the group of students to the Eastern Congo for human rights field research unrelated to Ntaganda. "If our group from UCLA Law could stumble upon Ntaganda and locate his compound, then the Congolese government and the intelligence services of Western countries have surely located him as well," Steinberg said. "This shows that Ntaganda lives with impunity, and he does so while enriching himself through conflict minerals trade, injustices that continue to destabilize the Eastern Congo."
"It is our hope," Steinberg said, "that the United States government will press the Congolese government to arrest Ntaganda and send him to The Hague for trial."
Published: Wednesday, March 14, 2012