- UN Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, Ms. Radhika Coomaraswamy, has hailed the arrest and transfer of a former warlord in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), describing it as "a new step forward in the fight against impunity."
Mathieu Ngudjolo Chui - former commander of the Fronts Nationalistes et Intégrationnistes (FNI) rebel group and a current Colonel in the Congolese national armed forces - was on Thursday handed over to the ICC in The Hague.
He faces nine counts of war crimes, including recruitment of child soldiers and sexual violence against girl children. He will make his first appearance in court on 11 February.
Chui is the third rebel leader from the north-eastern Ituri district transferred to the court's detention centre. His transfer followed those of Thomas Lubanga and Germain Katanga in January 2007 and October 2007. Both men face similar charges.
Colonel Chi is accused of having played a key role in the planning and implementation of a massacre in the village Bogoro in February 2003, attacking civilians and recruiting children under the age of 15.
"Crimes against children during armed conflict are particularly heinous because of their vulnerability" said Ms. Coomaraswamy.
“It is heartening when the international community responds strongly and decisively against such crime. The ICC and the Congolese national courts are playing a major role in the fight against impunity for such crimes.”
ICC Prosecutor is currently investigating situations in Uganda, Darfur, Central African Republic and DRC.
The Deputy Prosecutor of ICC, Fatou Bensouda, emphasised the importance of Chi's arrest and subsequent transfer for prosecution.
"With the arrest of Mathieu Ngudjolo Chui, we have completed the first phase of our DRC investigation focusing on the horrific crimes committed by leaders of armed groups active in Ituri since July 2002."
Congolese government has been commended for complying with the court's request. This is the first time that Congolese authorities arrested and transfer war crimes suspect to ICC.
"His arrest and surrender were made possible through the cooperation of the Congolese authorities," said ICC Registrar Bruno Cathala.
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