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Monday 8 July 2019

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Indicted war criminal Bosco Ntaganda poses for a photograph during an interview with Reuters in Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo. (File Photo)

The International Criminal Court found former Congolese rebel leader Bosco Ntaganda guilty Monday of all 18 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Ntaganda had denied being a killer and a war criminal when he spoke at his trial in The Hague Thursday.

In a speech to judges of the ICC, Ntaganda acknowledged being described as "The Terminator" but said, "That is not me."

Ntaganda insisted he was a soldier, not a criminal He said, "I have never attacked civilians...I have always protected them."

The comments pose a sharp contrast to the image painted by ICC prosecutors, who say Ntaganda commanded a rebel group, the Union of Congolese Patriots (UPC), that killed, raped and exploited people in Congo's eastern Ituri province in 2002 and 2003.

A lawyer for victims told the court that girls as young as 12 were forced to serve as so-called wives to senior rebel commanders.

The 18 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity, included charges of murder, sexual slavery, enlistment of child soldiers and forcible transfer of population.

The attacks by the UPC allegedly targeted specific ethnic groups such as the Lendu, Bira, and Nande. One alleged co-conspirator was Thomas Lubanga, who was sentenced to 14 years in prison in 2012 after the ICC convicted him of conscripting child soldiers.

Ntaganda remained at large for seven years after his indictment was issued in 2006, irritating judicial officials with occasional appearances in public.

He co-founded the Congolese rebel group M23 in early 2012. In a surprise move, however, he surrendered at the U.S. embassy in Kigali, Rwanda, in March of 2013. Experts say he may have turned himself in because fighting within M23 caused him to fear for his life.

Prosecutors called dozens of witnesses to testify against him, including a number of former child soldiers.

Bottles of wine are strewn in the middle of an aisle as Victor Abdullatif, background center, mops inside of the Eastridge Market, his family's store, Saturday, July 6, 2019, in Ridgecrest, Calif. Crews in Southern California assessed damage to…

Emergency workers in Ridgecrest, Calif., were assessing damage after a second major earthquake of magnitude 7.1 struck the desert community northeast of Los Angeles on Friday night.

It followed a magnitude 6.4 quake near the city on Thursday. No deaths or major injuries have been reported from either major temblor, but Friday’s 7.1 magnitude quake, which was felt throughout Southern California and in neighboring Nevada, caused additional damage and left residents shaken.

Again, food flew off the shelves of supermarkets, and thousands of dollars' worth of stock was destroyed in a liquor store.

“This earthquake was longer, but also concluded with a very, very strong jolt that felt like it was going to knock the whole place down,” said Victor Abdullatif, the owner’s son.

Far bigger jolt

Seismologists said the quake Friday was 10 times more powerful than Thursday’s earthquake.

“The [Friday] quake did last for some time,” said Mark Ghilarducci, director the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services. “It was felt widely throughout most of Southern California and even as far north here as Sacramento.”

Eugene Johnson looks at the chimney collapsed by an earthquake the day before at his home in Trona, Calif., July 6, 2019. Crews in Southern California were assessing damage to buildings, roads, water and gas lines, and other infrastructure.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom requested Saturday from President Donald Trump and the Federal Emergency Management Agency a Presidential Emergency Declaration for Direct Federal Assistance "to further support the communities impacted by the earthquakes."

The larger size of the quake meant the temblors that came before it, including the 6.4, are now classified as pre-shocks. Aftershocks continue to rattle the region.

Fires, leaks

Emergency workers have dealt with fires, and water and gas leaks.

“Obviously, 34 hours in between earthquakes, we're concerned about future aftershocks and where they're going to be,” said Kern County Fire Chief David Witt. Hundreds of smaller quakes have jolted the region since Thursday.

Play continued at a Dodgers baseball game in Los Angeles, as fans decided what to do.

“Whether to run or stay in place and hope for the best,” recalled Dodgers fan Chris Banakas. “We stayed in place and it went over. “We were cool.”

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