19 December 2012

Congo-Kinshasa: U.S. Calls for Arrest of Wanted Rebels Mudacumura, Ntaganda

Arusha — The United States has appealed for the arrest and prosecution of Congolese rebels Sylvestre Mudacumura and Bosco Ntaganda, both wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC). The call comes after the ICC Tuesday acquitted another Congolese militia leader, Mathieu Ngudjolo.

"The United States continues to call for the apprehension and prosecution of perpetrators of human rights abuses and atrocities and crimes in the DRC (Democratic Republic of Congo),"State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said Tuesday in an interview.

Both Mudacumura, the commander of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) and Ntaganda, leader of the National Congress for the Defence of the People (CNDP) militia, are wanted by the ICC for crimes against humanity and war crimes.

Nuland said the current conflict in the eastern DRC with M23 rebels underscores the continuing impunity that perpetrators of violence and human rights abuses continue to enjoy in the DRC.

Regarding the ICC's acquittal of Ngudjolo, Nuland said her department was reviewing the judgment. The Trial Chamber found Ngudjolo not guilty of crimes linked to a 2003 attack in Bogoro, eastern DRC, that left 200 villagers dead.

"I would note that in announcing the verdict, the Chamber made clear that the prosecution had not proven beyond a reasonable doubt that he was the commander of the combatants involved in the attack, and thus he wasn't responsible within the meaning of the Rome Statute,"said Nuland.

"The judges in the case emphasized that his acquittal didn't mean that in its opinion no crime had been committed there. It's just that within their definition, they couldn't link him to it," she added.

The verdict in the case of Ngudjolo is the second in the ICC's ten year history and its first acquittal.

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