FDLR trial: phone intercepts pin Murwanashyaka, Musoni

FDLR militia leaders, Ignace Murwanashyaka and Straton Musoni, were Monday pinned by phone intercepts of their past conversations as their trial resumed in a German court, it emerges.

FDLR militia leaders, Ignace Murwanashyaka and Straton Musoni, were Monday pinned by phone intercepts of their past conversations as their trial resumed in a German court, it emerges.

Following the Christmas break, the trial resumed with revelations about how the duo shielded genocidaires such as Grégoire Ndahimana, a former mayor suspected to have had a direct hand in the killing of up to 1,600 Tutsi civilians during the 1994 Genocide.

Before his arrest and subsequent transfer to the Arusha-based International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), in 2009, Ndahimana was secretary of another FDLR chief known as Harerimana, alias Santa Maria, in the DR Congo’s North Kivu province.

After Ndahimana was transferred to ICTR, the FDLR on August 14, 2009 issued a press release claiming they did not know him.

The militia refused to acknowledge that Ndahimana was one of their own, and indicated that he was just a simple refugee.

But a day before they issued their press release, on August 13, 2009, Murwanashyaka had called Santa Maria, who was then actually the FDLR civil administrator for the Rutshuru territory of North Kivu, and confirmed the association.

“The phone intercepts of this conversation and all the other conversations or texts amongst FDLR leaders about what to write into the press release were played in court,” Dominic Johnson, Africa Editor of German newspaper TAZ (die tageszeitung) who is closely following the trial told The New Times.

Murwanashyaka and Musoni, both charged for crimes against humanity and war crimes committed on Congolese territory, were arrested on November 17, 2009, in Germany where they now face 65 counts of crimes against humanity and war crimes.

Their trial began in May 2011.

In 2009, a warrant issued by German Federal Prosecutors confirmed that the two fugitives were leaders of a “terrorist group (FDLR) that is accused of crimes against humanity and different ‘systematic’ war crimes” against the civilian population in the DR Congo.

German prosecutors also acknowledged that the duo led a para-military organisation which had “killed hundreds of Congolese, raped women and recruited child soldiers.”

In June 2002, Germany introduced a new International Penal Code to deal with the crime of genocide and other crimes against humanity and terrorism which now enables prosecutors there to try a civilian for command responsibility over atrocities committed outside Germany.

The FDLR comprises remnants of the ex-Far and Interahamwe militia  masterminds of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.

The group blacklisted as a terrorist group because of crimes it committed in the DR Congo for the past 20 years now faces a military offensive by UN forces after ignoring a disarmament ultimatum that expired January 2.

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