French court rejects request to free Rwandan rebel leader

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A French appeals court on Wednesday rejected a request by Rwandan rebel leader and war crimes suspect Callixte Mbarushimana that he be released from detention.

French authorities arrested Mbarushimana, 47, earlier this month 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.

He has lived in Paris 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.

The Paris court rejected his request following an argument by the prosecution that he could leave the country.

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.

© 2010 AFP

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