ICC rejects arrest warrant for FDLR’s Mudacumura
The International Criminal Court (ICC), yesterday, dismissed the
prosecutor's application for an arrest warrant against Sylvestre Mudacumura, the field commander of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) militia, for crimes committed in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.
The decision came a day after the same court upheld a pre-trial panel’s decision to drop charges against FDLR secretary general Callixte Mbarushimana.
The ICC pre-trial chamber "unanimously dismissed, without examining the merits, the prosecutor's application for an arrest warrant against Sylvestre Mudacumura," reads a statement posted on the Hague-based court’s website.
Reacting to the development, Rwanda’s Prosecutor General, Martin Ngoga, said, “I think it is a very worrying development. The Court could not even succeed at a very initial step of getting indictments against leaders of a genocidal group confirmed.”
“It is both shocking and suspicious as to the level of attention these cases were given. The trend does not at all help to improve the image of this Court. That the Prosecutor could not find evidence of crimes committed by the top leaders of FDLR is just a big joke,” he said.
ICC chief prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo had asked the court on May 15 to issue a warrant against Mudacumura, on five counts of crimes against humanity and nine war crimes counts.
The counts relate to murder, inhumane acts, rape and torture allegedly committed by Mudacumura's fighters in the DRC’s volatile eastern Kivu provinces between January 20, 2009 and August 31, 2010.
But ICC judges said Moreno-Ocampo's application "fell short of the proper level of specificity" in describing the crimes "for which the person's arrest is sought."
Mudacumura was part of defunct ex-FAR army which drove millions of Rwandans into DRC after presiding over a genocide that claimed the lives of at least one million people in Rwanda in 1994.
The ex-FAR combatants, together with the Interahamwe militia – who were central to the Genocide against the Tutsi – set up bases in eastern DRC, and have operated under different names, the latest being FLDR.
FDLR, which owes no particular allegiance to any known cause and is blocked from carrying out mischief on the Rwandan side of the border by the more vigilant and superior RDF, has spread its brand of terror in the Kivu region of the DRC.
Mudacumura, believed to be 58, was the deputy commander of the Presidential Guard of the Rwandan Armed Forces during the Genocide. He is said to be about 58 years old.
The eastern DRC where FDLR is accused of orchestrating ruthless operations has been plagued by armed conflict and violence since the formal end of Congolese civil war in 2003, resulting in the death of thousands of civilians.
Thousands of Congolese have since fled across the border to Rwanda or Uganda.
DRC’s North and South Kivus are home to many militia groups, local and foreign, with FDLR one of the most notorious.
Over the past one month, North Kivu has seen a resumption of hostilities pitting Congolese national army and mutineers, who identify themselves as M23.
Contact email: edwin.musoni[at]newtimes.co.rw