Trial of FDLR leaders set for May

A German court, on Friday, ordered that FDLR militia leaders, Ignace Murwanashyaka and Straton Musoni, stand trial for crimes against humanity and war crimes committed on Congolese territory.The hearing will begin in May.Murwanashyaka is the president of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), the militant group comprised of extremists involved in the 1994 Rwandan genocide against the Tutsi.
 Ignace Murwanashyaka
Ignace Murwanashyaka

A German court, on Friday, ordered that FDLR militia leaders, Ignace Murwanashyaka and Straton Musoni, stand trial for crimes against humanity and war crimes committed on Congolese territory.The hearing will begin in May.

Murwanashyaka is the president of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), the militant group comprised of extremists involved in the 1994 Rwandan genocide against the Tutsi. Musoni is the vice president.

John Bosco Siboyintore, the head of the Genocide Fugitives Tracking Unit (GFTU) said: “It is a development that we welcome very much.”

Germans Prosecutors arrested Murwanashyaka, 47, and Musoni, 49, in November 2009 and indicted them in December last year, for 26 crimes against humanity and 39 war crimes committed in the DRC.

Describing 'systematic crimes' against civilian population, German prosecutors said the two lead a para-military organization active in the eastern DRC civil war and "killed hundreds of Congolese, raped women and recruited child soldiers."

When contacted, Congolese Minister of Information Lambert Mende welcomed the development.

He said: “This is a very good achievement for the peace process in the great lakes region since the trial of these criminals will send a strong signal to those willing to go ahead with their diabolic projects in both the DRC and Rwanda.

The group was blacklisted, by the UN, as a terrorist entity.

In June 2002, Germany introduced a new International Penal Code to deal with the crime of genocide and other crimes against humanity and terrorism.

Under this law, German prosecutors can try a civilian for commanding responsibility over atrocities committed outside Germany.

Meanwhile, a French court in November 2010 approved the transfer of Callixte Mbarushimana, the Executive Secretary of the FDLR, from France to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, Netherlands.

Mbarushimana was arrested by French authorities, in response to a warrant issued by the ICC, in September, on 11 counts of crimes against humanity and war crimes, including murder, torture, rape, attacks against civilians, destruction of property, inhuman treatment and persecution - all committed in DRC.

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