French court upholds Hutu rebel's transfer to ICC

4th January 2011, Comments 0 comments

A French court Tuesday upheld the transfer of an exiled Rwandan Hutu rebel leader to the International Criminal Court over alleged war crimes in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, his lawyer said.

The court rejected the appeals by Callixte Mbarushimana, described as "executive secretary" of the FDLR Hutu guerrilla group, against his detention and transfer to the ICC, said Philippe Greciano, one of his lawyers.

The Hague-based ICC suspects Mbarushimana of five crimes against humanity and six war crimes, including murders, rapes and torture committed in eastern DR Congo in 2009 during military operations launched against the FDLR by the Congolese and Rwandan armies.

Last month 47-year-old Mbarushimana, who had been living in France as a computer technician, was charged with crimes against humanity by a French judge.

The move followed a lawsuit filed by victims' groups, including Ibuka (Remember), accusing Mbarushimana of personal involvement in massacres at road blocks in the Rwandan capital Kigali during the 1994 genocide.

The accused has lived in France as a political refugee since 2002, occasionally releasing press statements defending the Rwanda Democratic Liberation Front.

The 1994 genocide saw forces unleashed by the Hutu-led government murder more than 800,000 people, mainly Tutsi civilians.

Tutsi rebels overthrew the genocidal regime and the Hutu forces fled to neighbouring DR Congo, where the FDLR sprang up among the sprawling refugee camps.

In 2009 UN-backed Congolese and Rwandan forces beat back the FDLR, which is accused of carrying out numerous atrocities against civilians.

According to international pressure group Human Rights Watch, the FDLR committed at least 630 murders of civilians between January and September 2009.

© 2011 AFP

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