Monday, October 11, 2010

Congo / France / International Criminal Court

France Arrests Rwandan Over Congo Atrocities
By Marlise Simons
The New York Times, October 11, 2010
"French police on Monday arrested a Rwandan believed to be a leader of a movement involved in a recent terror campaign in the Kivu region of Congo in which thousands of civilians have been killed and raped. Armed with an arrest warrant from the International Criminal Court in The Hague, police detained the Rwandan, Callixte Mbarushimana, 47, shortly after dawn at his home in Paris, a court official said. He is wanted on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity, according to a statement from the court. The Rwandan's activities had been tracked for more than 18 months in several countries including France, Germany, the Congo and Rwanda, the court official said. Mr. Mbarushimana, who has the status of political refugee and has lived in France for several years, was to appear later Monday before a local judge, who must decide on his transfer to the international court in The Hague. The process could take several days, because the decision can be appealed. The prosecutor's office in The Hague in a statement said that Mr. Mbarushima was one of the top leaders of the Rwandan rebel group FDLR, that from its base in the Congo was fighting to gain power in Rwanda and was using massive crimes against civilians to demonstrate its power.
'In 2009, the FDLR leadership decided to attack civilians in the North and South Kivu provinces in order to create a massive humanitarian catastrophe; the FDLR then tried to blackmail the international community and to extort concessions of power, in exchange for ending the atrocities,' the statement said. 'As a result of this deadly blackmail, victims were killed, raped and forcibly displaced and entire villages were razed to the ground.' It was Mr. Mbarushima's job to conduct an international campaign to convince foreign governments that that the FDLR was a legitimate political group that had to be reckoned with, an official in the prosecution office said. The arrest, evidently some time in the making, follows an incriminating United Nations report about the intractable violence in the Congo in the fight over its mineral wealth and political control in the Great Lakes Region. United Nations peacekeepers in the region have been widely criticized for failing to protect civilians. Following the report, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and others have repeated their calls for prosecution of the leaders in different capitals who are fueling the violence."
[n.b. This is the complete text of the dispatch.]

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