The trial of a former Congolese rebel leader known as "The Terminator" began Wednesday at the International Criminal Court in The Hague.
Bosco Ntaganda, one of the founders of the M23 rebel movement, denies the 18 charges against him. They include 13 counts of war crimes -- attacking civilians, rape, sexual slavery, and enlistment of child soldiers -- and five counts of crimes against humanity, including murder, attempted murder, persecution, and forcible transfer of population.
The ICC says the 41-year-old Ntaganda is charged for actions that allegedly took place in Congolese villages between 2002 and 2003. His militia is accused of attacks against specific ethnic groups such as the Lendu, Bira, and Nande during the internal conflict in Congo's district of Ituri, in northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo.
The ICC is also investigating allegations of crimes by Ntaganda and his militia in Congo's North Kivu province, but they are not part of this trial.
Ntaganda remained at large for seven years after his indictment was issued in 2006, irritating judicial officials with occasional appearances in public. In a surprise move, he surrendered himself at the U.S. embassy in Kigali, Rwanda, in 2013.
Experts say he may have turned himself in because of infighting within M23 that caused him to fear for his life.
Prosecutors have called dozens of witnesses to testify against him, including a number of former child soldiers.
The trial is expected to last several months. Presentation of evidence is expected to begin September 15.