Prosecution ponders options after Mbarushimana release

Rwandan prosecutors, after closely monitoring the trial of Callixte Mbarushimana, leader of the FDLR (Forces Démocratiques pour la Libération du Rwanda) militia at the International Criminal Court (ICC), are undeterred as they seek to bring him to justice for his alleged involvement in the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
Martin Ngoga
Martin Ngoga

Rwandan prosecutors, after closely monitoring the trial of Callixte Mbarushimana, leader of the FDLR (Forces Démocratiques pour la Libération du Rwanda) militia at the International Criminal Court (ICC), are undeterred as they seek to bring him to justice for his alleged involvement in the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.

Mbarushimana, was arrested in France last October after the ICC Prosecution issued a warrant for his arrest on five counts of crimes against humanity and eight counts of war crimes, committed by FDLR in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Pre-Trial Chamber I ordered his release on Friday and on Tuesday, judges at the Court rejected an appeal by the ICC prosecutor to halt his release.

Talking to The New Times, on Wednesday, Prosecutor General Martin Ngoga, said: “We shall first find out from the ICC Prosecutor what options remain for him and if he intends to pursue them. That would help us figure out what can be done on our side”.

The ICC case centred on Mbarushimana’s involvement in the DRC as Secretary General  of the FDLR), however, he is also accused by Rwanda and rights activists of having participated in the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.

“So, as far as we are concerned, we remain determined to bring him to justice. This is not the first time we experience setbacks in our efforts to bring fugitives to justice, but as we have always said, we can’t be the ones to tire before they do”, Ngoga added. 

Reports on Wednesday said Mbarushimana’s release was delayed on Tuesday because he is the subject of a United Nations travel ban.

As a top official of the FDLR, Mbarushimana had also been listed in 2008 for targeted UN and U.S. sanctions.According to media reports, ICC spokesperson Fadi El Abdallah said that prosecutors’ last remaining course of action if they want to block the release is to go back to the pre-trial panel and seek to lodge a final appeal.

Court officials had reportedly booked a Tuesday flight to Paris for Mbarushimana but he remained in custody after French authorities informed the court that Mbarushimana was still subject of a U.N. travel ban and he couldn’t fly without the permission of the U.N. Sanctions Committee.

It is reported that France asked for a 48-hour delay in Mbarushimana’s transfer on Monday to give them time to approach the Sanctions Committee.

On October 11, 2010, Mbarushimana was arrested in France, where he had been living as a political refugee since 2003.

Rwanda had earlier issued an indictment for his arrest, a request that the French government never acted upon.

Involvement in 1994 Genocide

Rwandan authorities insist that there is more to Mbarushimana than crimes he allegedly committed in eastern DRC.

He is believed to have played a role in organizing and executing killings during the 1994 Genocide, where he was a computer technician in the UNDP office in Kigali

In 2001, a UN investigative team linked Mbarushimana with the murder of 32 people, including Tutsi colleagues at the UNDP.

james.karuhanga@newtimes.co.rw

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