France re-arrests Rwandan rebel

Callixte Mbarushimana "cordially invited" to accompany police to appear before judge on return to host country.

    Callixte Mbarushimana was a senior leader of the rebel group FDLR during the conflict in the DRC in 2009 [EPA]

    Rwandan rebel leader Callixte Mbarushimana has been re-arrested on arrival in France after being released, and having had charges against him dropped, by the International Criminal Court, his lawyer said.

    The Hutu rebel leader who had been held and investigated by the ICC in The Hague on 13 counts of charges of war crimes, including murder and rape, in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2009 had been returning from ICC custody where charges against him had been dropped due to "insufficient evidence".

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

    Mbarushimana is still under investigation in France, where he has refugee status, for his alleged role in the 1994 Rwandan genocide of about 800,000 people, mostly ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus.

    "This is ridiculous," 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."

    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.

    Mbarushimana is however also subject to a seperate ICC probe for his involvement in the Rwanda genocide but this has not yet resulted in an arrest warrant.

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

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

    Prosecutors had accused him of being the "respectable face" of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) rebels who, from Paris, using "international and local media channels", organised a campaign of attacks against Congolese civilians living in the eastern DRC's Kivu provinces.

    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 maintains that he is innocent and has denounced the "barbarity" of military forces that ravaged Africa's Great Lakes region.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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