Berlin (dpa) - Former Congolese warlord Bosco Ntaganda on Wednesday pleaded not guilty to war crimes as his trial started at the International Criminal Court in The Hague.
The 18 charges against the 41-year-old include murder, rape, recruiting children as soldiers and subjecting them to sexual abuse, looting and displacement of civilians.
The prosecution says the crimes occurred when Ntaganda headed the Union of Congolese Patriots (UPC) in north-eastern Ituri province between 2002 and 2003.
Ntaganda has been accused of allowing his troops to rape girl soldiers.
The warlord was also involved in the M23 rebel movement, which signed a peace deal with the government in 2013.
Ntaganda surrendered to the US embassy in the Rwandan capital Kigali in 2013 after having eluded capture for seven years.
His former commander Thomas Lubanga was sentenced to 14 years in 2012 for using child soldiers, becoming the first person to be convicted by the ICC.
Dozens of armed groups remain active in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, which has been ravaged by violence since the country’s 1996-2003 wars.