THE HAGUE, Netherlands — Rwandan-born warlord Bosco Ntaganda was taken into custody by the International Criminal Court on Friday after giving himself up in the African country earlier this week and he will now fly to The Hague to stand trial on charges of overseeing atrocities in eastern Congo a decade ago.
The announcement brought to an end Ntaganda's time as one of the court's longest-standing fugitives nearly seven years after he was first indicted and was a crucial step in bringing to justice a rebel commander whose time on the run turned him into a symbol of impunity in Africa.
Nicknamed "The Terminator" because of his reputation for ruthlessness in battle, Ntaganda became a symbol of impunity in Africa, at times playing tennis in eastern Congo apparently without fear of arrest.
Despite his 2006 ICC indictment, Ntaganda joined the Congolese army in 2009 as a general after a peace deal that paved the way for him and his men to be integrated into the military. He was allowed to live freely in the provincial capital of Goma, where he also dined at top restaurants.
Last year, however, the agreement between the former warlord and the Congolese government disintegrated, and he and his troops defected, becoming known as M23 and battling Congolese government troops in the country's jungle-clad east.
Ntaganda is believed to have turned himself in after becoming vulnerable when his M23 rebel group split into two camps last month over the decision to bow to international pressure and withdraw from Goma late last year. Ntaganda and another rebel leader, Jean-Marie Runiga, had opposed any pullout, but a rebel general, Sultani Makenga, ordered a retreat and initiated peace talks with the Congo government.