Ntaganda hearing date set for September

March 26, 2013 at 12:07 PM

THE HAGUE, Netherlands, March 26 (UPI) -- The International Criminal Court told Congolese rebel leader Bosco Ntaganda that his confirmation of charges hearing was set for Sept. 23.

Ntaganda made his first formal appearance Tuesday at the ICC. He surrendered last week at the U.S. Embassy in Kigali, Rwanda and was then taken into ICC custody. He was the subject of two ICC arrest warrants and faces seven counts of war crimes.

The ICC said Tuesday that presiding Judge Ekaterina Trendafilova verified Ntaganda's identity and explained that his confirmation of charges hearing was set for Sept. 23.

Geraldine Mattioli-Zeltner, international justice director at Human Rights Watch said the court should seize the opportunity presented by Ntaganda's surrender.

"The prosecution of Ntaganda at the ICC will be a stark warning to other rights abusers and represents a great step toward accountability for some of the African continent's worst atrocities of recent years," she said in a statement.

It's unclear specifically why Ntaganda surrendered voluntarily. The U.S. State Department said that's a matter for him to explain to the court.

Ntaganda, former leader of the rebel March 23 Movement, denies the charges against him. M23 waged mutiny in the Democratic Republic of Congo last year.

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