War crimes court to release Rwandan rebel leader: lawyer

23rd December 2011, Comments 0 comments

The International Criminal Court was to release Rwandan rebel leader Callixte Mbarushimana later on Friday, his lawyer said.

"Mr Mbarushimana should be released today and arrive at Roissy airport in France around 3:50 pm" (1450 GMT), lawyer Arthur Vercken.

Vercken said travel restrictions imposed on Mbarushimana by a UN sanctions committee, which prevented him from leaving the Netherlands, had been lifted.

The ICC meanwhile resued comment when contacted by AFP.

Mbarushimana, 48, spent nearly a year in detention in The Hague, facing 13 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity, before ICC judges Friday dropped charges against him on the grounds of insufficient evidence.

The crimes including murder, rape and persecution, were allegedly committed by his rebel Democratic Forces of the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo in 2009.

ICC chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo on Monday appealed the judges' decision to release Mbarushimana from the court's Hague-based detention unit, as well as its decision to drop the charges against the man identified as the FDLR's executive secretary.

If released, Mbarushimana will be the first suspect to do so since the ICC opened its doors in 2003.

© 2011 AFP

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