The two leaders of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) currently on trial in Germany used mobile phones and internet to coordinate the war in Eastern DRC, it has emerged.
FDLR president, Dr. Ignace Murwanashyaka and his deputy, Straton Musoni, who have been in detention in the European country, were paraded before a German court in Stuttgart last week.
German prosecutors are convinced that two FDLR leaders used mobiles and emails from their base in Germany to command the war in Eastern DRC, leaving behind one of the worst humanitarian catastrophes.
Judges in Stuttgart will continue hearing evidence against the two rebel leaders facing a total of 55 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity carried out in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
Murwanashyaka, together with Musoni maintained the militia’s website, signed and issued press releases and gave interviews about the rebel activities aimed at destabilising Rwanda.
Prosecutors in Stuttgart further argued that the duo directly ordered the burning of Congolese villages, the murder of 200 civilians, large numbers of rapes, recruitment of child soldiers and the use of human shields.
They commanded the rebels to carry out mass killings and rape as part of “terror campaign” in Eastern DR Congo from 2008 until their arrest in 2009, prosecution alleges.
“We are talking about the full range of atrocities that one can imagine in a civil war," federal prosecutor Christian Ritscher told a panel of six judges in opening arguments.
FDLR, which recently resumed attacks in Eastern DRC, is thought to have a force of between 3,500 and 5,000 fighters, mainly perpetrators of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
The former Ex-FAR rebels who fled after 1994 are notoriously known for using rape as a weapon of war.
Despite the top leaders being behind bars in Europe, the rebels have continued to carry out brutal attacks in the dense forests of Eastern Congo, where they control gold mines and collaborate with other rebel forces to sell mineral products.
The trial in Stuttgart is scheduled to run until at least July while observers say it may even take up to one year.
If found guilty, both men whose trial is closely followed by the International Criminal Court (ICC) could be sentenced to life in prison.