04.11.10 - ICC/RWANDA - FRENCH COURT APPROVES MBARUSHIMANA EXTRADITION

Arusha, November 4, 2010 (FH) - Paris court of Appeals gave on Wednesday a green light for the extradition of Rwandan rebel leader Callixte Mbarushimana to face trial at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague.
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Mbarushimana is executive secretary of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), a Hutu rebel movement based in the Eastern region of Democratic Republic of Congo. He is wanted for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Mbarushimana is charged with five counts of crimes against humanity (murder, torture, rape, inhumane acts and persecution) and six counts of war crimes (attacks against the civilian population, destruction of property, murder, torture, rape and inhumane treatment).

These crimes were allegedly committed as part of armed conflict in 2009 between the FDLR and forces of the Congolese army (FARDC), sometimes together with Rwandan forces and "at times in conjunction with the United Nations Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo," according to the ICC press release.

Aged 47, the Rwandan rebel had been living in France since 2002, with a political refugee status. He was arrested on October 11 following an international warrant from the ICC.

The Paris court approved his transfer to The Hague's ICC "on condition that under no circumstances should Mr Mbarushimana be taken back by any means to Rwanda".

Lawyers for Mbarushimana attempted to prevent his extradition by arguing that he would be sent to Rwanda where they claim he would not receive a fair trial.

Two arrest warrants issued by the Rwandan authorities for " participation to the genocide" remain outstanding for Mbarushimana.

Mbarushimana has denied all the charges. He claims that the FDLR is a freedom movement, fighting to liberate Rwanda from the current governing authorities.

This arrest follows two other arrests of FDLR leaders in Germany, including FDLR chairman Ignace Murwanashyaka on November 17, 2009, under an arrest warrant from the German Federal Court of Justice.

The FDLR is considered one of the main sources of ongoing insecurity in the Great Lakes region of Africa.

ER/GF

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