DAKAR, Senegal — A former Congolese warlord accused of conscripting child soldiers walks free and is serving in the Congolese military despite a warrant for his arrest, an international rights group said yesterday.
Bosco Ntaganda was first indicted on war crimes charges in 2006 by the International Criminal Court, which is based in The Hague, Netherlands.
The court has accused Ntaganda of using child soldiers for fighting in Ituri, in northeastern Congo, from 2002 to 2003.
The United Nations also has implicated Ntaganda in the 2008 massacre in the village of Kiwanja in Congo’s North Kivu province.
More than 150 people were killed by rebels under Ntaganda’s command, according to a UN report.
Ntaganda vigorously denied the allegations in a phone interview yesterday and said he did not fear arrest on the ICC charges.
“I don’t think that the UN is able to arrest me in Congo because they have arms that I also have and that can protect me when they try to arrest me,’’ he said.
“If it is established that I committed crimes, I won’t hesitate to answer them to a court in my country. But I will never accept answering charges by the International Court.’’ .
Human Rights Watch has called for the Congolese government to arrest Ntaganda immediately, but Lambert Mende, Congolese government spokesman, said the group should direct its demand to the country’s judiciary because “there is separation of power in Congo.’’
Callixte Mbarushimana , a former Rwandan warlord, was arrested in Paris Monday on a warrant issued by The Hague. He is accused of war crimes committed against the people of Congo in 2009 that included murder and rape.