Judges order release of Callixte Mbarushimana
International Criminal Court (ICC) judges dismissed charges Friday against a Rwandan rebel accused of involvement in the murder, rape and torture of Congolese villagers by a Hutu militia in 2009.
The judges ordered the release of Callixte Mbarushimana, saying there is not enough evidence to support the charges against him.
Prosecutors said they would send the case to appeals judges and quickly filed a request to halt Mbarushimana’s release pending the outcome of the appeal. If judges reject the request, the court has to find a country willing to accept Mbarushimana before he can be released and it is not clear how long that could take.
Prosecutors had accused Mbarushimana of being a senior member of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda, known by its French acronym the FDLR. The group is accused of unleashing savage attacks on civilians in the North and South Kivu provinces of Congo as a “bargaining tool” to win power.
If he is freed, Mbarushimana would be the first suspect released from ICC custody since the court’s inception in 2002.
In February 2010, judges refused to confirm charges against a Darfur rebel accused of attacking African Union peacekeepers, but unlike Mbarushimana the rebel, Bahar Idriss Abu Garda, was never taken into custody.
cbc.ca reports: ICC drops charges against Rwandan suspect
Source: The Associated Press (Posted: Dec 16, 2011), cbc.ca