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ICC Arrests Congo Rapes Suspect

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

The International Criminal Court says French authorities have arrested a senior leader of a Rwandan rebel group accused of mass rapes in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

An ICC statement says Callixte Mbarushimana, leader of the rebel Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), was arrested Monday in Paris.

The ICC says Mbarushimana is charged with 11 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity including rape, killings, persecution based on gender, and extensive property destruction.

FDLR was one of the groups accused of raping hundreds of people in an eastern Congolese village this past August. The ICC says the rebels have carried out horrific crimes against civilians in eastern Congo for years.

The group was established by Rwandans who took part in the 1994 genocide and fled to Congo after the killing spree was stopped.

The ICC says French authorities arrested Mbarushimana on the grounds of a sealed arrest warrant.

ICC chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo described the arrest as a crucial step in efforts to prosecute sexual crimes in the DRC, where more than 15,000 cases of sexual violence were reported last year alone.