The Hague, July 13, 2012 (FH) – ICC judges issued on Friday an arrest warrant against rebel leader Sylvestre Mudacumura for nine war crimes allegedly committed between January 20, 2009 and September 2010 in eastern DRC. They also issued a second arrest warrant for crimes against humanity against Bosco Ntaganda.

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Sylvestre Mudacumura, supreme commander of the armed branch of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), is allegedly responsible for nine crimes including attacking civilians, murder, mutilation, cruel treatment, rape, torture, destruction of property, pillaging and outrages against personal dignity.

ICC Prosecutor had requested judges to issue a first arrest warrant in May but the application was dismissed on grounds that it “fell short of the proper level of specificity” in describing the alleged crimes.

In their arrest warrant, judges have rejected charges of crimes against humanity, arguing that there was no evidence that the FDLR were deliberately targeting civilians.

Judges on Friday issued another warrant for crimes against humanity against Bosco Ntaganda. In August 2006, he was already charged with war crimes, but Kinshasa never enforced the arrest warrant.

This time, judges ruled that there are reasonable grounds to believe that Ntaganda is responsible for three counts of crimes against humanity - murder, rape and sexual slavery, and persecution—as well as four counts of war crimes - murder, attacks against the civilian population, rape and sexual slavery, and pillaging - allegedly committed in the Kivus from 1 September 2002 to September 2003.

Despite the ICC warrant, the Congolese government integrated Ntaganda, a former leader of the Forces patriotiques pour la liberation du Congo (FPLC), into its army in 2009 under a peace deal in which he received Kinshasa's protection for his arrest and promoted him to the rank of general.

But in early April, 2012, several senior military and around 300 former members of the National Congress for the Defence of the People (CNDP) led by Ntaganda defected from the army and regrouped as a rebel force, citing unpaid salaries and inhumane living conditions, among other complaints.

In the last few days, the new movement called M23 threatened to take Goma.