The Hague, September 21, 2011 (FH) - Confirmation of charges hearings in the case of Callixte Mbarushimana ended on Wednesday  before the International Criminal Court with Defence lawyer claiming it was a "no win situation" for his client.

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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 his command responsibility in rapes, acts of torture and inhumane acts committed by his militia in 2009 in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). During the hearings, Prosecution produced copies of emails exchanged between the suspect and other FDLR leaders, including their President Ignace Murwanyashaka who is currently tried in Germany.

According to Senior trial lawyer Anton Steynberg, there is no doubt about the defendant's legal responsibility : "His flat [in Paris] was full of archives of the activities of the FDLR", he told the Chamber.

Callixte Mbarushimana 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. The Prosecution stated that he tried to convince the international community that the FDLR committed no crimes, accusing instead the Rwandan army.

Defence lawyer Nick Kaufman then took the stand to say that the Prosecution was trying to "criminalize free speech". He denounced a "no win situation. If he denies the crimes, he is guilty. If he admits the crimes, is double guilty". The Israeli lawyer added : "Maybe Miss Bensouda [deputy Prosecutor] think I am also guilty (...) in denying the prosecutor evidences".

He also stated that his client was in the box because ICC needed to send a suspect to The Hague: "It couldn't have Bosco Ntaganda because the Congo wouldn't give him over. It couldn't have Nkunda, because the Rwanda wouldn't give him over". Bosco Ntaganda, a former Congolese rebel who later integrated Congolese regular army forces, was indicted by the ICC in 2006. Laurent Nkunda, also a former militia leader backed by Rwanda, is now living in exile in Uganda.


© Hirondelle News Agency