The Hague, September 13, 2011 (FH) - At least 470 victims won't be allowed to participate to confirmation of charges hearings slated for September 16 to 21 in Callixte Mbarushimana's case before the International Criminal Court (ICC), Human Rights organization Redress deplored on Tuesday in an interview with Hirondelle News agency.

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Callixte Mbarushimana, 47, has 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 and six counts of war crimes, which were allegedly committed in 2009 in the Kivu Province (Eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, DRC).

To this date, only 130 victims have been allowed to participate to the proceeding through their lawyers, who will be able to speak in their names during the hearings.

The ICC Registrar is in charge of receiving, analyzing, and transmitting alleged victims requests to the judges. They decide in last resort if a request has a direct link with Mbarushimana's case.

However, in a document given to the Chamber on June 30, the Registrar explained that 470 requests had not been examined within the deadline by lack of means. " The review and transmission process of applications involves numerous steps (including scanning, registering, data-entry, reviewing and analyzing, and preparing individual reports) and requires sufficient human resources in order to respect the Chamber's deadline while ensuring the quality of the work conducted", part of the report read.

Head of Redress Carla Ferstman deplored the fact that "now, victims are finally coming forward to engage with the Court but the Court is not ready or capable to deal with them. If this resource issue is not resolved, victim participation will become a meaningless paper promise".

Lawyers Ghislain Mabanga and Mayombo Kassongo will represent the 130 acknowledged victims during the confirmation of charges hearings opening next Friday. A third lawyer, Hervé Diakiese was banned in August from the right to plead before the ICC after being struck off Congolese's Bar in July.

During the proceedings and until the final verdict, the victims role is very limited. They can only start to enforce their rights after the  sentence: if the accused is found guilty, victims car ask for compensations.


© Hirondelle News Agency