Callixte Mbarushimana appeals for release at the ICC 31 Mar 2011
Mbarushimana's lawyer says in a written request that his client will not try to flee justice or threaten witnesses if he is released.

Callixte Mbarushimana’s lawyer appealed to the International Criminal Court on 30 March to release him from detention and allow him to return to his family in France. Mbarushimana’s lawyer, Nick Kaufman, a former prosecutor in the Jerusalem district State Prosecutor's Office, stated that his client has “consistently shown a demonstrable respect for judicial authority and a strong commitment to clearing his name through the judicial process". His release is sought on the grounds that his continued detention leaves his wife and children with no source of income and they are suffering from moral and financial hardship in his absence.

Mbarushimana was on Interpol's list of wanted fugitives for alleged involvement in the 1994 Rwandan genocide, but he was arrested in connection with crimes committed in 2009 by Rwandan Hutu militia in the Congo's Kivu provinces. The allegations against Mbarushimana involve his participation in war crimes and crimes against humanity in Kivu as the alleged leader of the Hutu rebel group Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda, or or Forces Démocratiques pour la Libération du Rwanda (FDLR). He is accused of 11 counts of crimes against humanity and war crimes, including murder, rape, persecution based on gender, and extensive destruction of property. Mbarushimana lived in France at the time of these events, but the Office of the Prosecutor alleges that he was involved in the planning of the crimes and that he led a power-seeking campaign from his French residence. Mbarushimana denies the charges.

In its decision granting the application for the warrant of arrest, ICC Pre-Trial Chamber I found that there were reasonable grounds to believe that between January and September 2009, several attacks were directed by the FDLR against the civilian population of the North Kivu and South Kivu provinces in the DRC. Mbarushimana was arrested on 11 October 2010 and transferred to the Hague. On 4 July the Pre-Trial Chamber will determine whether the prosecutor’s evidence provides enough grounds for a trial.

In 2008, Mbarushimana was arrested by German police on charges that he killed 32 people during the Rwandan Genocide. In 2005, the UN asked France to bring genocide charges against Mbarushimana, who was claiming refugee status. Carla Del Ponte, the former Chief Prosecutor at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), refused to bring charges because of lack of sufficient evidence. Mr Kaufman reminded the court that during the investigation of his client by the ICTR, he had not attempted to flee and stated that Mbarushimana would not try to flee justice nor threaten witnesses if released by the ICC.

 

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