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Appeal judges: ICC can prosecute rebel for rape, sex slavery

Associated Press logo Associated Press 15/06/2017
FILE - A Monday Feb. 10, 2014 file photo of Bosco Ntaganda awaiting the start of a hearing at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, Netherlands. Bosco Ntaganda, an ethnic Tutsi from Rwanda, briefly took the stand Wednesday afternoon, June 14, 2017, at the start of weeks of questioning by his defense lawyer and cross-examination by prosecutors. (AP Photo/Toussaint Kluiters, Pool, File) © The Associated Press FILE - A Monday Feb. 10, 2014 file photo of Bosco Ntaganda awaiting the start of a hearing at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, Netherlands. Bosco Ntaganda, an ethnic Tutsi from Rwanda, briefly took the stand Wednesday afternoon, June 14, 2017, at the start of weeks of questioning by his defense lawyer and cross-examination by prosecutors. (AP Photo/Toussaint Kluiters, Pool, File)

THE HAGUE, Netherlands — Appeals judges at the International Criminal Court have ruled that the court has the authority to prosecute a Congolese rebel — whose trial is already underway — for the alleged rape and sexual slavery of child soldiers by members of the armed group they were serving in.

Rebel leader Bosco Ntaganda's defense team had argued that allowing the charges to go ahead would amount to a "substantial and unjustified extension of the scope of war crimes law," the court said in a statement Thursday.

Judge Sanji Mmasenono Monageng says that "international humanitarian law does not contain a general rule that categorically excludes members of an armed group from protection against crimes committed by members of the same armed group."

Ntaganda has pleaded not guilty to 13 charges. His trial continues.

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