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Rwandan rebel leader to face war crimes charges

By the CNN Wire Staff
Callixte Mbarushimana, show here in a 2004 photo, is wanted for war crimes in Democratic Republic of Congo.
Callixte Mbarushimana, show here in a 2004 photo, is wanted for war crimes in Democratic Republic of Congo.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Callixte Mbarushimana was arrested in Paris in October
  • His alleged crimes occurred in the Democratic Republic of Congo
  • Mbarushimana, a former U.N. employee, says he is innocent
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(CNN) -- An exiled Rwandan rebel leader is being transferred to the International Criminal Court to face charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity, the Paris prosecutor's office said Tuesday.

Callixte Mbarushimana was arrested in Paris in October under an ICC warrant involving allegations of mass rape and other crimes committed in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Mbarushimana, a leader of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), is charged with 11 counts of crimes against humanity and war crimes including rape, gender-based persecution and property destruction by his group in 2009, an ICC statement said in October.

At the time of the arrest, ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo thanked authorities in France, Germany, Congo and Rwanda for their help, calling it a "crucial step in efforts to prosecute the massive sexual crimes committed in the DRC."

The ICC statement said Mbarushimana was the first senior leader arrested for the atrocities in North and South Kivu provinces of Congo.

The FDLR comprises mainly Hutu extremists who fled to Congo after taking part in the 1994 Rwandan genocide.

The ICC statement blamed the group for instigating war in Congo as part of its efforts to topple the government in neighboring Rwanda.

Mbarushimana left Rwanda in the aftermath of the war and worked for the United Nations until he was dismissed in 2001 when it was revealed that he was the subject of an investigation by the United Nations' own criminal tribunal for Rwanda.

In 2005, CNN spoke with Mbarushimana in France, where he had refugee status. He maintained his innocence. "I am not afraid of justice. What I am afraid of is injustice, like what is taking place in Rwanda for instance, where people are not really tried properly," he aid at the time.

The ICC said Mbarushimana "has held senior positions in the political leadership of the FDLR" since 2004.

The ICC, seated at The Hague in the the Netherlands, describes itself on its website as "the first permanent, treaty based, international criminal court established to help end impunity for the perpetrators of the most serious crimes of concern to the international community."

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