What awaits DR Congo's 'Terminator' in his Hague cell

Upon his expected arrival in the Netherlands on Friday, Congolese war crimes suspect Bosco Ntaganda will be taken to the International Criminal Court's detention unit, where he will be readied for an initial appearance before the court.

Here is what he can expect:


Located in The Hague's seaside suburb of Scheveningen, the ICC's detention unit forms part of a Dutch prison and currently holds four other ICC prisoners being tried before the court.

It's also the prison used to detain those wanted by the nearby International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), as well as Charles Taylor, who is awaiting an appeals decision before the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL).

The unit "operates in conformity with the highest international human rights standards for the treatment of detainees," the court says on its website.

Prisoners all have individual cells equipped with computers, but no access to the Internet, to allow them to work on their cases. The cells also have a bed, desk, shelves, a cupboard, toilet, hand basin, television and an intercom to speak to guards when the cell is locked.

They may also use an outdoor exercise area and take part in sports and recreation activities.

Three meals a day are served, but there is also a communal kitchen where detainees can cook with groceries provided from a shopping list.

Detainees may receive family or conjugal visits "several times a year" and if they are declared destitute the court foots the bill for the visits "to the extent possible."


ICC rules say all detainees "shall appear before the pre-trial chamber, in the presence of the prosecutor, promptly upon arrival at the court."

The hearing is in particular to verify a suspect's identity and to inform the arrested person of the crimes he or she is being accused of. Prisoners are informed of their rights under the ICC's founding treaty, the Rome Statute.

The pre-trial chamber will then set a date on which it will hold a confirmation of charges hearing.


The Rome Statute says that within a reasonable amount of time after a person's surrender or detention, the pre-trial chamber shall hold a hearing to "confirm the charges on which the prosecutor intends to seek trial."

At that hearing, the prosecutor must convince judges substantial grounds exist "to believe that the person committed the crime(s) charged" and that enough evidence had been gathered to hold a trial.

The ICC's judges may at the end of the hearing either confirm the charges and send the accused to a trial chamber, or say more evidence is needed from the prosecutor, modify the charges, or drop the charges altogether.

Once charges have been confirmed, the court's presidency puts together a trial chamber to prepare and then conduct a trial.