KIGALI - The government has welcomed the move by the International Criminal Court (ICC) to arrest of Callixte Mbarushimana, one of the top commanders of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), terming it as a “positive step”.
Mbarushimana was arrested yesterday by the French Police on an arrest warrant issued by the ICC for war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Congo.
Reacting to the arrest yesterday, the Minister of Justice, Tharcisse Karugarama, said that the arrest of Mbarushimana, who is likely to be transferred to The Hague in a couple of days, is a “first step” towards the international community coming up to apprehend the heads of the terrorist group roaming freely.
“For us, we think anybody arresting anyone for such crimes is a positive development and as the government of Rwanda, we welcome that. We want to congratulate the ICC for having taken that bold initiative,”
“It is one step at ago and that is one good step. We hope ICC will continue to fulfil other steps to apprehend these wanted people. It was long overdue,” said Karugarama, who is also the Attorney General.
Mbarushimana’s arrest follows the arrest of two other top leaders of the group; Ignace Murwanashyaka and Straton Musoni by Germay authorities last year. The duo was denied bail by the German Court in June.
The French Ambassador to Rwanda Laurent Contini also confirmed the arrest.
“Yes I confirm the news. Mr. Calixte Mbarushimana was arrested in France this morning and was transferred to the hands of the prosecution.”
In a press statement released by the ICC shortly after the arrest, the Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo commended France for a smooth and efficient operation.
“We are grateful to the French authorities for executing the arrest warrant and we are thankful for the excellent cooperation of the many parties involved in the investigation, including France, Germany, the DRC and Rwanda. This is a clear example of positive complementarity in action,” said Ocampo.
He termed the arrest of Mbarushimana as a “crucial step in efforts to prosecute the massive sexual crimes committed in the DRC” by the former Ex-FAR rebels who have wrecked havoc in the region since 1994.
Another top FDLR commander Col. Seraphim Bizimungu, is also on the run following the recent gang rapes of about 500 persons by the rebels.
Mbarushimana is charged with 11 counts of crimes against humanity and war crimes including killings, rape, persecution based on gender and extensive destruction of property committed by the FDLR during most of 2009.
The Executive Secretary of the National Commission for the Fight against Genocide (CNLG) Jean de Dieu Mucyo, also welcomed the arrest saying that it is high time that the international community took the responsibility to arrest all those wanted criminals still on the run.
“It is a positive development. We hope justice will be delivered. It is high time the international community took its responsibility. Our worry is that sometimes countries go back on their decision and release such people, we hope it won’t be the case,” Mucyo said.