US welcomes Rwandan war crimes suspect's arrest

13th October 2010, Comments 0 comments

The United States on Wednesday welcomed France's arrest of Rwandan rebel leader Callixte Mbarushimana, wanted for war crimes and crimes against humanity in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Mbarushimana was arrested Monday in Paris, where he has lived as a leader-in-exile of the Rwandan Hutu rebel group the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), having received refugee status in France in 2003.

"Mbarushimana's arrest sends an important signal that the international community will not tolerate the FDLR's continuing efforts to destabilize the eastern provinces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo," State Department spokesman Philip Crowley said in a statement.

He referred to "the recent mass rapes in Walikale territory in which FDLR forces are believed to have participated.

"The United States continues to encourage FDLR soldiers and their dependents to demobilize and repatriate to Rwanda," Crowley said.

French authorities arrested Mbarushimana, 47, on a warrant issued in September by the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague.

The ICC said Mbarushimana faces five charges of crimes against humanity and six war crimes charges for murders, rapes, torture and destruction of property in eastern DR Congo in 2009.

The crimes were allegedly committed during a series of "widespread and systematic attacks" by FDLR fighters against civilians in the Nord Kivu and Sud Kivu provinces, according to ICC prosecutors.

They said there were reasonable grounds to believe Mbarushimana "personally and intentionally contributed" to plotting "widespread and systematic attacks against the civilian population in order to create a humanitarian catastrophe" which could be exploited for political gain.

Some Hutu rebels who are members of the FDLR are accused of having participated in the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, which witnessed the killings of 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus.

Crowley said Washington supports the ICC's continuing probes into atrocities that have been committed" in the DR Congo since 2002, as well as "the steps taken by the Congolese government to pursue accountability."

He added: "Ending the cycle of impunity is indispensable to establishing a lasting peace in the Congo."

© 2010 AFP

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