ICC postpones hearing for DRC war crimes suspect

[JURIST] Judges for the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] have postponed [decision, PDF; press release] the opening of the confirmation of charges hearing against accused war criminal Callixte Mbarushimana [case materials], originally set for Wednesday, until September 16. Mbarushimana, former leader of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) [GlobalSecurity backgrounder], is accused of committing war crimes in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) [BBC backgrounder] in 2009. In postponing the hearing, the judges wrote, "that disclosure related issues raised just prior to the confirmation have rendered it impossible to fairly conduct the confirmation hearing on the scheduled date." No further reasons were given. Mbarushimana's lawyer, Nick Kaufman, expressed disappointment [AP report] with the decision.

Mbarushimana made his initial appearance [JURIST report] before the ICC in January and denied the charges against him. The court provided official notice of the charges against Mbarushimana, which include five counts of crimes against humanity and six counts of war crimes including murder, rape, torture, and attacks against the civilian population, and also informed him of his rights under the Rome Statute. In addition to facing allegations relating to violence in the DRC, Mbarushimana has also been linked to the 1994 Rwandan genocide [JURIST news archive]. In December, a French judge charged Mbarushimana [JURIST report] with war crimes and crimes against humanity for his role in the genocide. In 2008, Mbarushimana was arrested by German border police [JURIST report] as he attempted to travel to Russia on charges that he killed 32 people during the Rwandan genocide. In 2005, the UN asked France to bring genocide charges [JURIST report] against Mbarushimana, who was then in the country under refugee status. Carla Del Ponte, the former chief prosecutor for the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) [official website], refused to charge him and said the ICTR did not file an indictment against Mbarushimana because it lacked sufficient evidence against him.

 

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