ICC drops charges against Rwandan rebel

Court orders release of Callixte Mbarushimana who was accused of involvement in DR Congo crimes in 2009.

    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


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    'Money can't buy us': Mapping Canada's oil pipeline battle

    'Money can't buy us': Mapping Canada's oil pipeline battle

    We travel more than 2,000km and visit communities along the route of the oil pipeline that cuts across Indigenous land.

    Women under ISIL: The wives

    Women under ISIL: The wives

    Women married to ISIL fighters share accounts of being made to watch executions and strap explosives to other women.

    Diplomats for sale: How an ambassadorship was bought and lost

    Diplomats for sale: How an ambassadorship was bought and lost

    The story of Ali Reza Monfared, the Iranian who tried to buy diplomatic immunity after embezzling millions of dollars.