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France

Rwandan rebel leader in France after ICC release

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2011-12-23

Rwandan rebel leader Callixte Mbarushimana arrived in Paris on Friday after his release by the International Criminal Court (ICC), where judges have dropped war crimes charges against him on the grounds of insufficient evidence.

AFP - Rwandan rebel leader Callixte Mbarushimana was met by police and taken before a judge when he arrived in Paris on Friday after being released by the International Criminal Court, his lawyer said.

"Mr Mbarushimana was 'cordially' invited to accompany police when he get off the plane. He was taken to an investigating magistrate who is to notify him of his parole conditions," said lawyer Arthur Vercken.

Vercken waited in vain at Paris' Charles de Gaulle airport for his client to arrive from the Netherlands where he has been in ICC custody for almost a year, facing crimes against humanity and warcrimes charges.

Despite those charges being dropped, he is under investigation in France for his alleged role in the 1994 Rwandan genocide of about 800,000 people, mostly ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus, hence the interview with the judge.

Mbarushimana, 48, had faced 13 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity in The Hague, before ICC judges on December 16 dropped charges against him on the grounds of insufficient evidence.

The crimes including murder, rape and persecution, were allegedly committed by his rebel Democratic Forces of the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo in 2009.

The first defendant to be freed by the ICC, Mbarushimana chose to return to France, where he had been living since 2002 and working as a computer specialist, until his arrest on October 11, 2010 following an ICC arrest warrant.

He has political refugee status in France.

His arrest arose from a probe into alleged Congolese war crimes referred to the ICC by the Kinshasa government in June 2004.

"This is ridiculous," lawyer Vercken said.

"He was informed of his bail conditions and he was going to go to the judge next week. There's no point coming to get him here," Vercken said. "He wasn't going to make any sensational declarations."

Mbarushimana is also the subject of a probe by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda that has not yet resulted in an arrest warrant.

"Callixte Mbarushimana was released in accordance with a decision issued by the pre-Trial chamber," the ICC in The Hague said in a statement earlier.

"Thanks to the full cooperation of the Netherlands, the host state of the ICC, and of France, Mr Mbarushimana was released on French territory, as he requested," the court added.

ICC chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo's appeal against his release was rejected Monday after the judges' ruling two days before.

Prosecutors had accused him of being the "respectable face" of the FDLR rebels, organising a campaign of attacks against Congolese civilians living in the eastern DRC's Kivu provinces from Paris using "international and local media channels".

The attacks perpetrated by the FDLR resulted in 384 civilian deaths between February and October 2009, as well as 135 cases of sexual violence, 521 abductions, 38 cases of torture and five of mutilation, prosecutors said.

Mbarushimana himself has always insisted he was innocent and denounced the "barbarity" of military forces that ravaged Africa's Great Lakes region.

 

Date created : 2011-12-23

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