Rwandan FDLR leader Callixte Mbarushimana in French Court
Kigali – Rwandan rebel leader Callixte Mbarushimana (Pictured), a war crimes suspect for crimes committed by FDLR rebels in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), made his first appearance in a French court on Wednesday.
French police arrested Mbarushimana, the Executive Secretary of the FDLR earlier this month in Paris following a secret arrest warrant by the International Criminal Court (ICC).
Mbarushimana, 47, denies any involvement in a list of charges including massive sexual crimes committed in the DRC” where over 15,000 cases of sexual violence were reported in 2009 alone. As late as August 2010, the FDLR was involved in raping some 500 women, men, boys and babies in DRC’s North Kivu province.
Philippe Greciano, Mbarushimana’s lawyer, says Mbarushimana must be set free by the French court as a political refugee in France.
“France must release him because he is a political refugee on French soil but also because he brings all the guarantees of French representation. He has a house, he has work, he has a family. He’s never had a problem with the French or international justice. All the affairs against him didn’t lead to anything and that proves that this is a person who needs to be set free, having specified that he can always be present in court when convened.”
Callixte Mbarushimana is also wanted by Rwanda over Genocide but his case has dragged on for years without progress. He has been arrested previously but later released – prompting furry from Rwanda. He has been living in Paris as the leader-in-exile of the Rwandan rebel group, the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR).
Mbarushimana is the fifth suspect in the custody of the International Criminal Court or ICC, his arrest was the result of almost two years of inquiries conducted by France, Germany, the DRC, Rwanda and the ICC.