Rwandan Hutu rebel leaders indicted in Germany

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German prosecutors said Friday that two senior Rwandan Hutu rebel leaders have been indicted on charges of crimes against humanity and war crimes.

Ignace Murwanashyaka, political leader of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), and his deputy Straton Musoni were arrested in southern Germany in November 2009.

The FDLR was created by perpetrators of the 1994 Rwandan genocide, who fled to neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) after being routed and driven out by forces led by current President Paul Kagame.

German federal prosecutors said that FDLR killed hundreds of civilians between January 2008 and July 2009 in eastern DRC, raped large numbers of women, looted villages and forcibly recruited child soldiers.

Many of the group's leaders are accused of taking part in the Rwandan genocide, in which an estimated 800,000 people, mostly ethnic Tutsis, were slaughtered.

At the time of their arrest, the rebel group said that the two were "in no way involved in the atrocities committed against civilians in eastern DRC," calling their detention "unfair and unjustified."

The group, whose aim is to overthrow the Kagame's government, is considered a key source of insecurity in Africa's Great Lakes region.

Murwanashyaka was among 15 people whose assets were frozen by the UN Security Council in 2005 on suspicion of involvement in war crimes.

Kagame has criticised Western countries in the past for not doing enough to bring FDLR leaders living there to justice.

On November 3, a French court agreed to send Callixte Mbarushimana, another FDLR leader, to the International Criminal Court in The Hague to face charges that he mastermined war crimes from his hideaway in France.

© 2010 AFP

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