Callixte Mbarushimana, 47, is alleged to have been since July 2007 the Executive Secretary of the Forces Démocratiques pour la Libération du Rwanda (FDLR). He 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 inhuman treatment). These crimes were allegedly committed in 2009 in the Kivu Province (Eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, DRC).
According to the Prosecution, Mbarushimana "decided to launch an offensive targeting the civilian population of the Kivus in order to ultimately obtain political concessions, and that an international campaign to extort concessions of political power for the FDLR was put in place, as part of the implementation of the common plan".
He also allegedly "personally and intentionally contributed to the common plan, organising and conducting the above-mentioned international campaign by regularly using international and local media channels".
No witnesses are expected to testify during these three days of hearing. Both parties should rely on documents, written statements and specialist briefings.
The Prosecution will have to prove Mbarushimana's responsibility in the alleged crimes, though in 2009 he was living in exile in Paris where he had been granted a status of political refugee and a residence permit valid until 2013.
The Defence intends to challenge the investigation. According to Mbarushimana's lawyer Nick Kaufman, the Prosecution has based its accusation on a Human Rights Watch report released in 2009 which he intends to criticize "for its methodology and overall quality".
Callixte Mbarushimana, the father of three children, was arrested in Paris in October 2010. He was surrendered and transferred to the ICC on January 2011, by the French authorities following an arrest warrant issued by the ICC in September 2010.
© Hirondelle News Agency