"The chamber ... having heard all the evidence mentioned by the parties, finds you as concerns count one, murder as a crime against humanity, guilty," said judge Robert Fremr, reading a summary of the verdict. The warlord's sentence will be determined at a later hearing.
Ntaganda was found guilty on all 18 charges for acts committed while he was military operations chief at the Union of Congolese Patriots (UPC) militia in east Democratic Republic of Congo in 2002-2003, more than 2,000 victims included in the case against the former Congolese general also known as "the Terminator."
Judge Fremr paused many times while reading the summary, to cite specific acts Ntaganda was responsible for, such as his personal calls for children to join his forces, as well as murders by his men, including that of a pregnant woman kept in a pit.
"Rape was common practice," said the judge, mentioning a girl as young as nine being raped by Ntaganda’s fighters.
"This ICC decision comforts the victims and the whole population of the Ituri province, which was bereaved by the atrocities of Bosco Ntaganda's rebellion," the director of Justice Plus, a rights group based in the northeast city of Bunia, Xavier Macky said. He called the conviction a "contribution to the war against impunity."
The accused's attorneys tried to explain their client was simply trying to keep order among his soldiers, just punishing those who did not respect the rules of war. Ntaganda showed no signs of emotions when the verdict was read.
In the conflict of Congo, the UPC dominated by the Hema clan targeted rival Lendu people by expulsing them from the mineral-rich Ituri region. The conflict killed hundreds of civilians and forced thousands to flee.
The ICC issued an arrest warrant for Ntaganda in 2006. Despite it, the warlord was promoted within the army in 2009 and continued living in eastern DRC. In 2013, he surrendered to the U.S. Embassy in Rwanda in 2013 and his trial began in 2015.