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Rwandan genocide suspect arrested

Latest update : 2008-07-08

Former UN employee and Rwandan rebel leader Callixte Mbarushimana was arrested in Frankfurt Tuesday. He is being investigated in France where he was living in exile, and is wanted in Rwanda for crimes during the 1994 genocide.

Rwandan rebel leader Callixte Mbarushimana, a former UN employee wanted over his alleged role in the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, has been arrested in Frankfurt, a prosecutor in the German city said Tuesday.

"He was arrested on Monday afternoon at Frankfurt airport, from where he had wanted to fly to Saint Petersburg," said Peter Rueckert, a state prosecutor in charge of extradition cases at the Frankfurt court of appeal.

Rueckert said Rwandan authorities have been informed of the arrest, adding that Mbarushimana, who is wanted in Rwanda and under investigation in France, would appear before a judge in the next two days.

Rwandan authorities have demanded that Mbarushimana, a leader of the Hutu rebel Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), be extradited and  Rueckert said this was possible though Berlin has no extradition accord with the central African state.

Rwanda accuses the 44-year-old Hutu of killing and ordered the killing of some 30 Tutsis, including colleagues at the UN Development Programme, where he worked in Kigali in the early 1990s.

He was arrested in Kosovo in April 2001 while he was working for the United Nations and turned over to the Rwandan war crimes tribunal, but charges against him were dropped in September 2002 due to lack of evidence.

It would have been the first time a UN worker was charged with international war crimes.

Mbarushimana filed a complaint of unfair dismissal and a UN administrative panel in 2004 awarded him 12 months' back pay as the allegations against him had never been tested in court.

In 2003, he was given refugee status in France where he has lived as a leader-in-exile of the FDRL, a grouping that was accused by the top UN official in the Democratic Republic of Congo of killing refugees in the east of the country.

But earlier this year, French authorities opened an investigation against Mbarushimana after a complaint was lodged by a group of genocide victims.

The move was hailed by authorities in Kigali and by Rwanda's main grouping of genocide survivors, who called it a "victory against impunity."

Rwanda's Prosecutor General Martin Ngoga said the French investigation was a "salutary gesture" which gave Kigali hope that other war crimes suspects it believes to be in France would one day face justice.

The Rwandan government has repeatedly accused France of having failed to stop the genocide, in which the UN estimates 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus were slaughtered over about 100 days.

In an interview given to Australian television last year, Mbarushimana ruled out returning to Rwanda to face charges.

"There is no justice in Rwanda. So to go to Rwanda to face justice is just like to hang (one)self, or to suicide (one)self. So that's not my case," he said.

The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) has so far sentenced 30 people and acquitted five over the genocide.

Last month, the UN's war crimes prosecutor for Rwanda asked the UN Security Council to give him an extra year to complete trials of fugitive suspects.

Date created : 2008-07-08