US Secretary of State John Kerry Friday welcomed the transfer of Congolese war crimes suspect Bosco Ntaganda to the International Criminal Court as a major step for "justice and accountability."
"Now there is hope that justice will be done," Kerry said in a statement after Ntaganda flew out of Rwanda heading for The Hague where he faces charges of murder, rape and the forced recruitment of child soldiers.
Ntaganda is wanted on seven charges of war crimes and three of crimes against humanity allegedly committed during his years as a warlord in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.
He shocked the world when in an unprecedented move he walked into the US embassy in Kigali on Monday and asked to be sent to The Hague.
Kerry, who is traveling with President Barack Obama in Jordan, reminded that Ntaganda had evaded capture for nearly seven years, and thanked the Rwandan, Dutch and British governments for their help in his transfer.
State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland explained that "British diplomats on the ground in Kigali worked intensively with us to arrange the transfer, to encourage Rwandan authorities to let it go forward."
Ntaganda will now face the court's judges for the first time on Tuesday following his transfer from Rwanda to The Hague.
His expected appearance before the ICC will be "an important moment for all who believe in justice and accountability" and will help the Great Lakes region restore civil order, justice and accountability, Kerry said.
It "will also send a strong message to all perpetrators of atrocities that they will be held accountable for their crimes," he added in his statement.
Ntaganda seemed he feel that by surrendering to the US embassy "he wouldn't be blocked from leaving the country, his safety would be assured," Nuland told reporters.
He had been examined by a French doctor during his stay at the embassy and his physical health was fine, she added.
But she could not explain why after seven years he had decided to turn himself in, saying "I think he's going to have to tell that story."