France charges Hutu rebel over 1994 Rwanda genocide: source

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A French judge has charged exiled Rwandan Hutu rebel leader Callixte Mbarushimana over his alleged role in the 1994 Rwandan genocide, a source close to the case told AFP on Wednesday.

The 47-year-old former "executive secretary" of the Hutu guerrilla FDLR, who had been living in France as a computer technician, was on Tuesday charged with crimes against humanity by examining magistrate Rene Cros, the source said.

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

In a separate case, a French court last month agreed to send Mbarushimana to the International Criminal Court in The Hague to face charges of ordering murders, rapes and torture in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo in 2009.

The November court ruling allowing him to be sent to the ICC was on condition he not be sent back to Rwanda.

The accused has lived in France as a political refugee since 2002, occasionally releasing press statements defending the Rwanda Democratic Liberation Front and is appealing any move to send him before the ICC.

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 Congo, where the FDLR sprang up among the sprawling refugee camps.

In 2009 UN-backed Congolese 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.

© 2010 AFP

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