KIGALI - Following yesterday’s arrest of FDLR leader Ignace Murwanashyaka and his deputy, Straton Musoni ,in Germany, government has welcomed the move, saying the two are part of a terrorist group that has not only committed crimes in Rwanda, but also in the DRC.
Murwanashyaka and Musoni were arrested following a warrant issued by German Federal Prosecution office.
“They are responsible for crimes against humanity and war crimes not only against the people of Rwanda but also the people of DRC – they extended their genocide agenda into DRC,” said Tharcisse Karugarama, the Minister of Justice.
A communiqué issued by German federal prosecutors said that the two fugitives were arrested after it was confirmed that they were leaders of a “terrorist group (FDLR) that is accused of crimes against humanity and different war crimes.”
“The federal criminal department arrested two persons – Dr. Ignace Murwanashyaka, 46 years, and another Rwandan Straton Musoni, 48, leaders of a terrorist group,” reads part of the communiqué.
Pointing to what they described as ‘systematic crimes’ against civilian population, German prosecutors said the two led a para-military organisation active in the eastern DRC civil war and which “has killed hundreds of Congolese, raped women and recruited child soldiers.”
“Both persons head FDLR and have control over operations and command of the rebels --they are therefore responsible for the crimes that are being committed by the terrorist group they lead,” the communiqué said.
The two were scheduled to appear before a judge later yesterday.
Karugarama described their arrest as ‘very good ‘ and insisted the two are “leaders of a terrorist organization whose members constitute the bulk of the genocidal forces that caused the death and destruction in this country in 1994.”
The FDLR are responsible for large scale human rights violations and crimes against humanity, including killing, pillaging and rape on a massive scale in DRC.
Rwandan and Congolese troops conducted joint operations (operation Umoja Wetu) against the rebels early this year and managed to weaken them, especially seeing hundreds of them killed, captured and hundreds others repatriated.
Army spokesperson Maj. Jill Rutaremara welcomed the move but said others who share the same genocide ideology with Murwanashyaka, all over the world, should be arrested.
“His arrest will demoralize the already weak armed ex-Far and Interahamwe in the DRC territory,” Rutaremara said.
In 2005, Murwanashyaka was blacklisted by the UN for violating an arms embargo aimed at promoting peace in the DRC, and subjected to a travel bans and assets freeze.
He was briefly arrested in April 2006 in Mannheim, Germany for immigration violations but was then released shortly after.
Recently, Germany enacted a new law enabling it to try criminals accused of violating International Humanitarian law. Murwanyashyaka and Musoni could be one the first people tried under this law.
When contacted on the course of action for the duo’s prosecution, Prosecutor General Martin Ngoga said that request for extradition would still be an option.
“At the moment I am not in position to tell you if we will request for them to be extradited to Rwanda…it is also an option but we are always flexible if the Germans are willing to prosecute the suspects,” said Ngoga.
He added that his office has been working closely with their German counterparts to secure these arrests.