23 December 2011

Rwanda: Freed ICC Suspect Detained in France

Rwandan rebel leader Callixte Mbarushimana was met by police and taken before a judge when he arrived in Paris after being released by the International Criminal Court, his lawyer said.

"Mr Mbarushimana was 'cordially' invited to accompany police when he get off the plane. He was taken to an investigating magistrate who is to notify him of his parole conditions," said lawyer Arthur Vercken. Mr Vercken waited in vain at Paris' Charles de Gaulle airport for his client to arrive from the Netherlands where he has been in ICC custody for almost a year, facing crimes against humanity and warcrimes charges.

Despite those charges being dropped, he is under investigation in France for his alleged role in the 1994 Rwandan genocide of about 800,000 people, mostly ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus, hence the interview with the judge.

Mbarushimana, 48, had faced 13 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity in The Hague, before ICC judges on December 16 dropped charges against him on the grounds of insufficient evidence. The crimes including murder, rape and persecution, were allegedly committed by his rebel Democratic Forces of the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo in 2009.

The first defendant to be freed by the ICC, Mbarushimana chose to return to France, where he had been living since 2002 and working as a computer specialist, until his arrest on October 11, 2010 following an ICC arrest warrant. He has political refugee status in France.

His arrest arose from a probe into alleged Congolese war crimes referred to the ICC by the Kinshasa government in June 2004.

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