DR Congo warlord transfer to ICC a step toward peace: UN

The UN mission to the Democratic Republic of Congo on Tuesday said transferring wanted Congolese warlord Bosco Ntaganda, who has surrendered in Kigali, to the international war crimes court will be a solid move towards peace.

"The surrender of Bosco Ntaganda and his imminent transfer to the International Criminal Court will allow the peace process in DR Congo to move forward," Roger Meece, head of the UN mission, known as MONUSCO, said in a statement.

"This is also a strong message to other people that violate human rights that they will not escape justice," added Meece, who is a special representative of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

Nicknamed "The Terminator", Ntaganda is wanted on seven charges of war crimes and three of crimes against humanity allegedly committed in DR Congo, including murder, rape, sexual slavery and using child soldiers.

US and Rwandan officials announced on Monday that Ntaganda had given himself up at the US embassy in the Rwandan capital and asked to be transferred to the ICC in The Hague.

The ICC would liase with authorities to "facilitate" Ntaganda's transfer, the court told AFP Tuesday.

Ntaganda is believed to have been involved in several armed groups in DR Congo, before being incorporated into the regular army and given the rank of general as part of a peace deal.

He defected last year and became involved in the M23 rebel mutiny against Kinshasa, before fleeing to Rwanda, which has been accused by the DR Congo and the United Nations of masterminding, arming and even commanding the M23 movement.

Ntaganda was allegedly involved in the brutal murder of at least 800 people in villages in eastern DR Congo and is accused of keeping women as sex slaves between September 2002 and September 2003. Human Rights Watch (HRW) claims he used nearly 150 child soldiers in his rebel army.

Both HRW and Congolese rights groups have welcomed Ntaganda's transfer as a means to improving peace and security in the country.