Terminator’s golden business

02 March 2011 by Lisa Clifford

A murky deal involving millions of dollars in smuggled gold is the latest scandal engulfing the International Criminal Court indictee Bosco Ntaganda. 

But analysts say allegations that Ntaganda is dealing in conflict minerals are unlikely to hasten his departure to The Hague where he is wanted on charges of recruiting children to fight in the north-eastern Ituri region in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The most recent chapter in the story of Ntaganda began on February 3 when a plane from Nigeria touched down at the airport in Goma, the sprawling capital of North Kivu province.

More than $6.5 million in cash was allegedly taken from the plane to Ntaganda’s compound, according to Fidel Bafilemba, a Goma-based researcher for the Enough Project. He says Ntaganda’s men later delivered more than 450 kilos of gold to the plane. The Congolese authorities then seized the gold and arrested four passengers – an American, a Frenchman and two Nigerians who remain in custody.

Ntaganda, known as the Terminator for alleged brutalities in Ituri, has denied any wrongdoing, suggesting he was actually attempting to foil a gold smuggling operation.

Bafilema doubts that anyone in DRC will be investigating too closely what really went on. He says Ntaganda is simply too powerful.

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