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France hands DRC rape suspect to Hague court

Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation - Tue, 25 Jan 2011 14:12 GMT
Author: (c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2011. Click For Restrictions.
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PARIS, Jan 25 (Reuters) - A Rwandan rebel group leader accused of mass rapes in the Democratic Republic of Congo has been handed over to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, a French judicial source said on Tuesday.

Callixte Mbarushimana, described as a senior leader of the FDLR rebel group, was detained in Paris on Oct. 11 after the issue of a warrant for his arrest on allegations the FDLR was involved in hundreds of rapes in the DRC's North Kivu province.

A French appeals court ruled in November that Mbarushimana, charged with 11 counts of crimes against humanity and war crimes, be handed to the ICC.

It is the first time France has handed over a suspect to the court, which was founded in 2002 with United Nations backing.

His arrest followed almost two years of inquiries conducted by France, Germany, Congo, Rwanda and the International Criminal Court, whose chief prosecutor described the arrest at the time as a "crucial step in efforts to prosecute the massive sexual crimes committed in the DRC".

Eight years after a 1998-2003 war in which violence, hunger and disease killed more than 5 million people, Congo is still plagued by unrest. Rwandan Hutu and local Mai Mai militias are at large in its mineral-rich east and Ugandan rebels of the Lord's Resistance Army in the north. (Reporting by Thierry Leveque; Writing by John Irish; editing by Mark Trevelyan)

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