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DR Congo warlord handed over to Kinshasa authorities

Sheka’s Mai Mai militia are accused of the mass rape of hundreds of women in eastern DR Congo © AFP / STR

Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, Aug 4 – A Congolese rebel warlord wanted for crimes against humanity including mass rape was handed over to the authorities in Kinshasa on Friday, a UN spokeswoman said.

Ntabo Ntaberi Sheka “has been handed over to the authorities at Kinshasa,” Fabienne Pompey, spokeswoman for MONUSCO, the UN peacekeeping force in the country, told AFP.

Sheka turned himself in to UN peacekeepers in North Kivu, the east of the country on July 26 and was initially held in Goma, the regional capital.

The authorities issued the warrant for Sheka’s arrest in January 2011 after an attack in which the militia under his command and two other groups allegedly raped nearly 400 people in 13 villages between July 30 and August 2, 2010.

His soldiers are also accused of razing almost 1,000 homes and businesses and leading about 100 people off into forced labour.

Due to the rape accusations and other acts that could constitute crimes against humanity, Sheka had been subject to UN sanctions including the freezing of his assets and a worldwide travel ban.

Rights group Human Rights Watch, while welcoming Sheka’s surrender, called on both the Congolese authorities and the UN to guarantee Sheka’s safety in custody.

Some of the worst attacks by Sheka’s forces occurred between August 2012 and November 2013 in and around the town of Pinga.

His Mai Mai fighters abducted dozens of women and girls, many of whom are still being held hostage as sex slaves, HRW said.

In June 2015, MONUSCO forces launched military operations against his force after his men burned down several villages in the east of the country.

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