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ICC Issues Arrest Warrants For Rebel Leaders In DR Congo
307 days ago
(RTTNews) - The Hague-based International Criminal Court (ICC) on Saturday issued two separate warrants for the arrests of Sylvestre Mudacumura-- the head of a Rwandan rebel group, and Congolese rebel leader Bosco Ntaganda for alleged war crimes committed in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
According to the UN-backed court, both the warrants were in response to requests submitted in May by the Office of the Prosecutor. The prosecutors had expressed hopes then that the two new arrest warrants would contribute to establishing peace and security in the Great Lakes region of the DRC.
Mudacumura, 58, is the supreme commander of the Rwandan rebel group known as the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda, also known by its French acronym FDLR. He is suspected of committing war crimes, from 20 January 2009 to the end of September 2010, in the context of the ongoing conflicts in the North and South Kivu provinces in eastern DRC.
The ICC said Saturday that it believes there are "reasonable grounds to believe that he is responsible for nine counts of war crimes, consisting of attacking civilians, murder, mutilation, cruel treatment, rape, torture, destruction of property, pillaging and outrages against personal dignity."
The international community considers the FDLR group to be the most recent incarnation of Rwandan rebel groups established by Rwandan Hutus responsible for the 1994 genocide of Tutsis and Hutu moderates in Rwanda. The group is said to have been involved in crimes in eastern DRC for some time.
Incidentally, the ICC had issued an arrest warrant for Ntaganda in 2006 for three counts of war crimes allegedly committed against civilians in the Ituri region of DRC from 2002 to 2003. Later, Ntaganda's National Congress for the Defense of the People (CNDP) rebel group was integrated into the national army in 2009 under a peace deal between the rebel group and the Congolese government.
Under the deal, Ntaganda, one of the top commanders in the militia led by Congolese warlord Thomas Lubanga Dyilo who was convicted in March by the ICC for crimes in DRC, was made a General. DR Congo's President Joseph Kabila had earlier refused to arrest Gen. Ntaganda citing the 2009 peace deal.
Nevertheless, some 400 to 500 renegade soldiers led by Ntaganda deserted their base in Goma In April and launched an offensive against government troops. They were joined later by hundreds of others in fighting the government forces. The ongoing fighting in eastern DRC is said to have displaced more than 100,000 people, including many who have fled to neighboring Rwanda and Uganda.
The ICC charges pressed against Ntaganda in 2006 included the enlistment of children under the age of 15, conscription of children under the age of 15, and using children under the age of 15 to participate actively in hostilities. The new arrest warrant is an expansion of the previous one.
The ICC said Saturday that there were reasonable grounds to believe that Ntaganda is responsible for three counts of crimes against humanity, consisting of murder, rape and sexual slavery, and persecution. According to the latest arrest warrant, he allegedly bears individual criminal responsibility for four counts of war crimes consisting of murder, attacks against the civilian population, rape and sexual slavery, and pillaging.
The ICC, which is based in The Hague, was established in 2002 as the world's first permanent war crimes court to prosecute individuals for genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and the crime of aggression. It is authorized to try cases involving individuals charged with war crimes committed since July 2002. In addition to the situation in DRC, the Court has ongoing investigations in the Central African Republic, the Darfur region of western Sudan, Uganda, Kenya, Libya and Ivory Coast.
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