ICC Rejects Bid to Halt Release of Rwandan Rebel

Posted December 19th, 2011 at 11:10 am (UTC-5)
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The International Criminal Court has rejected a request by prosecutors to block the release of a Rwandan rebel accused of war crimes in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

ICC judges ordered Callixte Mbarushimana's release on Friday after dismising all charges against him, citing lack of evidence.

Prosecutors have asked the court to keep him in custody while they appeal the court's ruling. But in a written decision Monday, judges rejected that request. The Associated press quotes them as saying that Mbarushimana can no longer be detained because the charges against him have been dropped.

Mbarushimana had faced eight counts of war crimes and five counts of crimes against humanity in connection with the rape, murder and torture of Congolese citizens.

Prosecutors charged that Mbarushimana was a top leader of a rebel group, the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda, or FDLR.

The group, based in the eastern DRC, attacked civilians in Congo's North and South Kivu provinces in 2009.

ICC prosecutors did not accuse Mbarushimana of knowing about each crime committed by the rebels, but said he helped plot the attacks in order to pressure Rwanda's government to deal with his group.

The FDLR was established by ethnic Hutus who took part in the 1994 Rwandan genocide of Tutsis and fled to Congo after the killing spree was stopped.

French authorities arrested Mbarushimana in Paris last year on an ICC warrant. He had received refugee status in France in 2003.