The Hague, January 25, 2011 (FH) - Rwandan rebel leader, Callixte Mbarushimana, was transferred to the International Criminal Court (ICC) on Tuesday. The executive secretary of the Democratic forces for the liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) faces charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity, notably for rapes, acts of torture and inhumane acts committed in 2009 in the eastern part of the DRC.

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On October 11, 2010, Mbarushimana was arrested in France, where he had been living as a political refugee since 2002. His lawyers had tried in vain to block his transfer to the ICC, claiming it would result in him being sent back to Rwanda, where they argued he would not get a fair trial.

According to the Prosecution, Mbarushimana was the highest leader of the FDLR since the arrest of the two heads of the movement in Germany, in 2009.

The computer technician is also accused by Rwanda of participating in the 1994 genocide while he was a UNDP employee in Kigali.

In April 2001, he was arrested in Kosovo following an international arrest warrant issued by Rwanda. However, international judges ruling on his case decided against his extradition on grounds that the death penalty was in force in Rwanda and because of the weakness of the indictment.

The Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), Carla del Ponte, had also started an investigation against Mbarushimana at the time, but she closed the case in 2002 without issuing an indictment.

Callixte Mbarushimana will appear before the court on January 28 to plead guilty or not guilty.

"Understand this well: rape can no longer be used as a weapon of war," the prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocamp said in a statement. "In the ICC era, the fate of leaders and commanders who plan or oversee campaigns of mass crimes against civilians is to face justice."


© Hirondelle News Agency