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International Court rejects Congo rebel's legal challenge

THE HAGUE — International Criminal Court judges have rejected a challenge to their jurisdiction over two charges against a former rebel leader on trial for alleged atrocities in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Defense lawyers argued that based on provisions of the Geneva Conventions the court did not have jurisdiction to try Bosco Ntaganda on allegations of rape and sexual slavery against child soldiers serving in his rebel militia.

In a ruling issued yesterday, the panel trying Ntaganda rejected the argument. It said the trial, which started in 2015, can continue on all 18 charges.

The judges wrote that rape and sexual slavery are "prohibited at all times, both in times of peace and during armed conflicts, and against all persons, irrespective of any legal status."

Ntaganda denies all the charges.

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