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Congo rebel leader, wanted for crimes, surrenders

By Saleh Mwanamilongo and Carley Petesch Associated Press

KINSHASA, Congo – The founder and leader of a Congo rebel group who is wanted for crimes against humanity surrendered Wednesday in the country’s North Kivu province, the United Nations mission in Congo said.

Ntabo Ntaberi Sheka, the founder of Nduma defense of Congo, has been wanted since 2011 under a national warrant for crimes against humanity, including for mass rapes. He surrendered Wednesday to U.N. forces in Mutongo in Congo’s east with full knowledge he will stand trial for alleged crimes, the mission said. He has since been transferred to Goma, the capital of the province.

The U.N. mission said it would support judicial authorities in pursuing criminal prosecutions for human rights violations, and it has a standing agreement with the government to ensure that those handed over to the national authorities are treated in accordance with all relevant human rights standards.

Eastern Congo has been plagued by a myriad of armed rebels since the Rwandan genocide in 1994.

Human Rights Watch Central Africa director Ida Sawyer said Sheka’s surrender brings hope for justice and a reprieve from violence.

“Thousands of civilians in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo have been affected by crimes committed by forces under Ntabo Ntaberi Sheka’s command, and many still fear the next attack,” she said.

He remained at large for over six years as his troops continued to commit horrific crimes, she said.

“His surrender today brings hope for justice and a reprieve from the violence. Congolese authorities, with support from the United Nations, should ensure Sheka’s safety in detention and promptly bring him to justice in a fair and credible trial,” she said.

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