The Hague, September 16, 2011 (FH) -  Confirmation of charges hearings in the case of Callixte Mbarushimana began on Friday  before the International Criminal Court (ICC) with the Prosecution asserting that the accused was "the respectable face of FDLR".

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The former 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 Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

The list of crimes committed by the FDLR is long and well documented. However, the Prosecution has to prove that the defendant can be charged for the crimes, even though he lived in Paris when the killings took place in DRC.

For Mbarushimana's lawyer Nick Kaufman "never has so much been expended to prove so little". He said that the case was empty, adding:  "Justice is not a process initiated because somebody in New York, Kinshasa or elsewhere has decided that an individual has to pay for crimes committed by FDLR in Kivus".

He also wondered why the Prosecution did not charge the Congolese army or other militias acting in Kivu.

Reacting to the Prosecution's statement that Mbarushimana had been publishing 80 Press releases for the FDLR  while in Paris, he asked: « Do we punish a man for exercising his rights to free speech?"

Hearings are expected to last until September 21.


© Hirondelle News Agency