France sends Rwandan Hutu to ICC on war crimes charges

25th January 2011, Comments 0 comments

France is transferring exiled Rwandan Hutu rebel leader Callixte Mbarushimana to the International Criminal Court to face charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity, prosecutors said Tuesday.

French authorities arrested Mbarushimana last October on a warrant issued by the ICC in September for charges of murders, rape, torture and destruction of property in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2009.

The 47-year-old denies the charges.

Mbarushimana was due to arrive at the court in The Hague in the Netherlands on Tuesday afternoon and was scheduled to make an initial appearance at which ICC judges were to read him the arrest warrant issued for him, officials said.

He was then due to be taken to the court's detention centre in The Hague suburb of Scheveningen.

Mbarushimana, a former leader of the Rwandan FDLR rebel force, has lived in France as a political refugee since 2002 and has worked as a computer technician.

His lawyers had tried to block the ICC warrant by arguing that it could be a first step towards sending him back to Rwanda, where they argue he would not get a fair trial.

Based in the east of the DRCongo, the FDLR, some of whom took part in the Rwandan 1994 genocide that saw 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus killed, are considered a major source of insecurity in the region.

Mbarushimana was arrested in Kosovo in April 2001 while he was working for the United Nations and turned over to the Rwandan war crimes tribunal, but charges against him were dropped in September 2002 due to lack of evidence.

© 2011 AFP

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