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African warlord to face murder charges at The Hague

THE HAGUE, Netherlands -- African warlord Bosco Ntaganda was taken from the U.S. Embassy in Rwanda Friday and put on a flight to The Hague, where he faces trial at the International Criminal Court on charges including murder, rape and persecution in a rebel group's deadly reign of terror that gripped eastern Congo a decade ago.

Ntaganda was to arrive last night, nearly seven years after he was first indicted. His transfer was hailed as a crucial step in bringing to justice one of Africa's most notorious warlords.

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.

Secretary of State John Kerry called the transfer "an important moment for all who believe in justice and accountability."

Despite his 2006 ICC indictment, Ntaganda joined the Congolese army in 2009 after a peace deal that paved the way for him and his men to be integrated into the military.

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 mineral-rich east.

Ntaganda is believed to have turned himself in after becoming vulnerable when M23 split into two camps last month over the decision to bow to international pressure and withdraw from Goma late last year.

Ntaganda was turned over to ICC staff in the Rwandan capital, Kigali, where he gave himself up at the U.S. Embassy on Monday. Ntaganda was first indicted in 2006 on charges of using child soldiers. In July, the court issued a second arrest warrant accusing him of murder, rape, sexual slavery and pillaging in 2002-03. He faces a sentence of life imprisonment. -- AP

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