The International Criminal Court (ICC) has sentenced a former Congolese military leader to 30 years in prison for atrocities including murder, rape and conscripting child soldiers.

Bosco Ntaganda was found guilty in July on 18 charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The acts were committed when the 46-year-old, known as "Terminator", was military operations chief at the Union of Congolese Patriots (UPC) militia in east Democratic Republic of Congo in 2002-2003.

Ntaganda was convicted of crimes including murder, persecution and sexual slavery for a series of massacres of civilians in DRC's volatile, mineral-rich Ituri region in 2002 and 2003.

Judges said he was the ruthless driver of ethnic Tutsi revolts amid the wars in the DRC after the 1994 genocide of Tutsis in neighbouring Rwanda.

At the sentencing hearing, Judge Robert Fremr said there were no real mitigating circumstances and issued the 30-year sentence, the longest handed down by the court in The Hague to date.

Condemning Rwandan-born Ntaganda's "multiplicity of crimes", the judge said that "murder was committed on a large scale".

He said the court had taken the "particular cruelty" of some of Ntaganda's crimes into account.

The court gave him the maximum possible sentence allowed by the ICC in terms of the number of years, but said his crimes did not justify a full-life prison term which is reserved for the gravest offences.

Ntaganda stood motionless in the high-security courtroom as he listened through headphones while the judgement was read out.

An ICC spokesman confirmed it was the heaviest penalty handed down by the court, which was set up in 2002 to try the world's worst crimes.

ICC Judge Robert Fremr