KIGALI - The International Criminal Court (ICC) is considering adding recent rape cases in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to what the detained top official of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) Callixte Mbarushimana, will be charged with.
ICC Prosecutor, Luis Moreno Ocampo, told the French Media on Tuesday, a day before Mbarushimana appeared in a French Court that the FDLR Secretary General is likely to be charged with the rapes of villagers in the DRC.
“The crimes occurred after we requested the arrest of Mbarushimana, but now we are trying to see whether we can add these crimes to the list of crimes he is charged with,” Ocampo told French Television; France 24.
Mbarushimana who is wanted by the ICC for war crimes and crimes against humanity in eastern DRC, was arrested in France last week.
Prosecutors had obtained an arrest warrant in September on 11 charges of crimes against humanity and war crimes, including murder, rape, torture and destruction of property.
Mbarushimana, 47, had been living in Paris as the leader-in-exile of the former ex-FAR rebel group. The United Nations says a coalition of at least 200 fighters from the Mai-Mai militia and the FDLR raped some 500 men, women and children in 13 villages in the Walikale region of DR Congo in late July and early August.
In August, Mbarushimana had issued a statement from Paris denying that the FDLR was involved in the commissioning of the rapes, but according to Ocampo, his original role was to cover up the crimes.
“That was one of the roles of Mbarushimana; to cover up the crimes. Some of the perpetrators who are in jail say the FDLR leaders gave the order to commit those crimes.”
Ocampo promised that Mbarushimana’s arrest “will not be the last”.
“We will do more on the FDLR. We will focus on them. We will demobilise them”. He added that Mbarushimana’s arrest was “the result of a common (joint) effort” with Germany, Rwanda, the DRC and France, who helped to “intercept conversations” and collect information.
The Government of Rwanda has welcomed the move by the ICC to arrest Mbarushimana, describing it as a “positive step”.
His arrest followed that of the two other top leaders of the group, Ignace Murwanashyaka and Straton Musoni by German authorities last year.
Mbarushima’s job was to conduct an international campaign to convince foreign governments that the FDLR was a legitimate political group that should be reckoned with.