Ntabo Ntaberi, a former militia leader in the Democratic Republic of Congo, was on Monday sentenced to life in prison for crimes against humanity, including mass rape.
The United Nations celebrated his sentencing, hailing it as a blow against the “impunity” of armed groups in the country. Ntaberi was convicted of murder, rape, sexual slavery and enlisting children under the age of 15.
Ntaberi’s arrest warrant was first issued in January 2011, where authorities accused him of orchestrating raids in villages in mid-2010.
Ntaberi was one of the leaders of a militia group called Nduma Defense of Congo (NDC), which operated in the restive eastern province of North Kivu.
It is reported that during those raids, members of the NDC and two other militia groups allegedly raped about 400 people and killed almost 300.
Ntaberi spent six years on the run before eventually surrendering to UN peacekeepers in DR Congo in July 2017.
Monday’s ruling came at the end of a two-year trial in which 178 victims testified.
Ntaberi was prosecuted along with three co-defendants, including a commander from another militia, who also received a life sentence for crimes committed in North Kivu.
“We are satisfied with this verdict, it is a strong signal to other warlords,” Kahindo Fatuma, a spokesman representing the victims, told AFP. “The victims will be a little bit relieved.”
“This verdict is a source of immense hope for the many victims of the conflicts in the DRC: their suffering has been heard and recognised,” said Leila Zerrougui, head of the UN’s peacekeeping mission in DR Congo.