[QODLink]
Europe
ICC drops charges against Rwandan rebel
Court orders release of Callixte Mbarushimana who was accused of involvement in DR Congo crimes in 2009.
Last Modified: 16 Dec 2011 19:31

International Criminal Court judges have dismissed charges against a Rwandan rebel accused of involvement in the
murder, rape and torture of Congolese villagers by a Hutu militia in 2009.

The judges on Friday ordered the release of Callixte Mbarushimana, saying there is not enough evidence to support the charges against him.

"Today, 16 December 2011, the pre-trial chamber decided by majority, presiding Judge Sanji Mmasemono Monageng dissenting, to decline to confirm the charges in the case of The Prosecutor v. Callixte Mbarushimana," the court said
in a statement.

It is possible prosecutors will appeal and seek to block his release.

Prosecutors had accused Mbarushimana of being a senior member of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), which unleashed violence against civilians in the North and South Kivu provinces of DR Congo as a "bargaining tool" to win power.

Majority decision

"We welcome this brave decision which is a moment of truth and vindication for Callixte Mbarushimana."

- Nick Kaufman, Mbarushimana's lawyer

In an unusual case at the court, prosecutors accused Mbarushimana of contributing to crimes from an apartment in Paris where he lived "by orchestrating an international campaign of propaganda and extortion'' to force Rwanda to accept the return of the rebels who had fled the country after its 1994 genocide.

In a majority decision, a three judge panel said evidence presented at a preliminary hearing in September was not strong enough to merit sending the case to trial.

The evidence was "not sufficient to establish substantial grounds to believe that the Suspect encouraged the troops' morale through his press releases and radio messages, and, therefore, he could have not provided ... a significant contribution to the commission of crimes," two judges wrote in their decision.

Nick Kaufman, the lawyer who represented Mbarushimana at the preliminary hearing, praised the decision.

"We welcome this brave decision which is a moment of truth and vindication for Callixte Mbarushimana," Kaufman told The Associated Press news agency in an email.

Mbarushimana was arrested in Paris in October 2010, and transferred to the court in The Hague.

He faced 11 charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity but always maintained his innocence.

If he is freed, Mbarushimana would be the first suspect released from ICC custody since the court's inception in 2002.

Source:
Agencies
Topics in this article
People
Country
City
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
More than one-quarter of Gaza's population has been displaced, causing a humanitarian crisis.
Ministers and MPs caught on camera sleeping through important speeches have sparked criticism that they are not working.
Muslim charities claim discrimination after major UK banks began closing their accounts.
Italy struggles to deal with growing flood of migrants willing to risk their lives to reach the nearest European shores.
Featured
Assam officials upset that WWII-era Stillwell Road won't be used in transnational highway linking four Asian nations.
Informal health centres are treating thousands of Syrian refugees in Turkey, easing the pressure on local hospitals.
Indonesian and Malaysian authorities are keeping a close eye on local supporters of the hard-line Middle East group.
Wastewater ponds dot the landscape in US states that produce gas; environmentalists say they’re a growing threat.
China President Xi Jinping's Mongolia visit brings accords in the areas of culture, energy, mining and infrastructure.
join our mailing list