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The International Criminal Court passed its highest ever sentence Thursday, sending a Congolese warlord known as "The Terminator" to prison for 30 years for crimes including murder, rape and sexual slavery.

Bosco Ntaganda was found guilty in July of 18 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity for his role as a military commander in atrocities during a bloody ethnic conflict in a mineral-rich region of Congo in 2002-2003.

Ntaganda showed no emotion as Presiding Judge Robert Fremr passed sentences ranging from eight years to 30 years for individual crimes and an overarching sentence of 30 years.

The court's maximum sentence is 30 years, although judges also have the discretion to impose a life sentence. Lawyers representing victims in the case had called for a life term.

Fremr said despite the gravity of the crimes and Ntaganda's culpability, his convictions "do not warrant a sentence of life imprisonment."

Ida Sawyer, deputy director of Human Rights Watch's Africa division, welcomed the ruling.  "Bosco Ntaganda's 30-year sentence sends a strong message that even people considered untouchable may one day be held to account," Sawyer said.

Jolino Makelele, a spokesman for the government in Democratic Republic of Congo, or DRC, said: "We think that justice was done for the victims."

Ntaganda, who has insisted he is innocent, became a symbol of widespread impunity in Africa in the seven-odd years between first being indicted by the global court and finally turning himself in in 2013 as his powerbase fell apart.



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