Rwandan rebel 'wants to return to France': lawyer

20th December 2011, Comments 0 comments

Rwandan rebel leader Callixte Mbarushimana has asked to return to France upon his release, which is being contested before the world war crimes court, his lawyer said Tuesday.

"He wants to travel back to France if he is released," Arthur Vercken told AFP via phone from Paris, where Mbarushimana was living when he was arrested on an International Criminal Court warrant in October last year.

The court's chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo said Monday he would appeal a court decision to reject his request to keep Mbarushimana behind bars. No decision had yet been taken by the Hague-based tribunal's appeals chamber.

Two of three ICC judges of the court's pre-Trial chamber Friday ruled there was insufficient evidence to charge the 48-year-old Mbarushimana, ordering his release.

The former UN computer technician has spent nearly a year in detention at The Hague on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity, allegedly committed by his troops in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo in 2009.

Vercken insisted his client, identified as the executive secretary of the Democratic Forces of the Liberation of Rwanda, should immediately be freed, claiming the prosecution's attempts to stop it were futile.

"The prosecution is trying to deny reality, but Mr Mbarushimana will leave The Hague for France. Point," he said.

Mbarushimana has "chosen France" ICC spokesman Fadi El-Abdallah told AFP, saying the court was in contact with French authorities for their response and to possibly arrange the time and date of the transfer."

The court's rules stated the ICC had to provide for a person's transfer and then release that person to a country willing to receive him, Abdallah added.

Mbarushimana's arrest arose from a probe into alleged Congolese war crimes referred to the ICC by the Kinshasa government in June 2004.

But he is also under investigation in France for his alleged role in the Rwandan genocide of about 800,000 people, mostly ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus.

© 2011 AFP

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