Former militia leader Ntabo Ntaberi [photo: CGTN Africa]
Nov, 24th 2020 – A military court in the Democratic republic of Congo has arrested former militia leader Ntabo Ntaberi on charges of murder, rape, sexual slavery and enlisting children under the age of 15. The sentencing of Ntabo to life in prison followed a two-year trial that saw 178 victims testify.
According to the United Nations, the ruling showed impunity is not inevitable. Leila Zerrougui, Head of UN’s peacekeeping mission in DR Congo said, “This verdict is a source of immense hope for the many victims of the conflicts in the DRC: their suffering has been heard and recognized.”
Ntaberi, also known as Sheka, was one of the leaders of the militia group called Nduma Defense of Congo (NDC), which operatesin the restive eastern province of North Kivu.
The crimes were committed in Congo’s eastern province of North Kivu between the years 2010 and 2014. Sheka alongside Seraphin Zitonda, a militia commander were found guilty of organizing raids in Wlikale territory in mid 2010 where 380 people including children, were raped and 287 killed.
Their jail sentences were handed out on Monday at the trial in the city of Goma. Speaking to AFP, Kahindo Fatuma, a spokesman representing the victims said, “We are satisfied with this verdict, it is a strong signal to other warlords. The victims will be a little bit relieved.”
A researcher on DR Congo for Human Rights Watch, Thomas Fessy, said that Ntaberi’s conviction was ‘an important step in the fight against impunity.‘