News / Africa

Rwanda Welcomes the Arrest of Former Rebel Leader

Rwandan Callixte Mbarushimana during an interview with The Associated Press in Paris (File Photo - 15 Oct 2009)
Rwandan Callixte Mbarushimana during an interview with The Associated Press in Paris (File Photo - 15 Oct 2009)

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  • Tharcisse Karugarama, Rwanda’s Justice Minister spoke with Clottey

Peter Clottey

Rwanda’s Justice Minister said his government is pleased with the arrest Monday of a former rebel leader accused of masterminding genocide and violating human rights against Rwandans and Congolese villagers in 1994.

French authorities arrested Callixte Mbarushimana, a former leader of the infamous Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), an ethnic Hutu rebel group.

Tharcisse Karugarama welcomed the decision of French authorities to enforce the international arrest warrant issued by his government and the International Criminal Court (ICC) against the former rebel leader.

“It is good news that Callixte Mbarushimana has been (arrested) by the French judicial authority. Good news in the sense that, first, there was an international arrest warrant against him issued by the Rwandan government in respect of (the alleged) act of genocide committed in Rwanda in 1994.”

Karugarama said the Hague-based court sought the arrest of the former rebel leader who was believed to be hiding in France.

Genocide memorial in Rwanda
Genocide memorial in Rwanda

“The International Criminal Court (ICC) conducted its own investigation about his other activities and they found sufficient evidence to support the charge of war crimes and crimes against humanity perpetrated in the DRC and they issued an arrest warrant, which the French judicial authorities have executed.”

The Hague-based court accused Mbarushimana and other rebels in the FDLR of using violence against unarmed civilians as their main tool in a campaign to forcefully obtain political power for the rebel group.

According to the ICC, “as a result of this deadly blackmail (by the FDLR rebels), victims were killed, raped, and forcibly displaced, and entire villages were razed to the ground.”

Karugarama said Mbarushimana and his FDLR rebel forces played a pivotal role in the country’s 1994 genocide in which hundreds of thousands of people were killed.

“We believe that, in the next couple of weeks after due process has taken place in France, he should be able to be transferred to The Hague in the Netherlands to face charges and be prosecuted for war crimes and crimes against humanity committed within the territory of the DRC.”

The Justice Minister also said Kigali will be cooperating with the International Criminal Court in the imminent prosecution of Mbarushimana.

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