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France court orders Rwanda rebel leader to face ICC trial

A French court on Wednesday ordered Callixte Mbarushimana, the alleged leader of the rebel group the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) [GlobalSecurity backgrounder], to face trial at the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] in The Hague. Mbarushimana will be tried [BBC report] on allegations that he committed 11 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive] last year. French authorities arrested [JURIST report] Mbarushimana in October under a warrant from the ICC. Last week, an appeals court in Paris rejected a request [AFP report] from the accused for his release and, according to an ICC spokesperson, unless Mbarushimana's lawyers appeal the extradition order, he will be handed over to the court within a month. The French court authorized the transfer to the ICC on the condition that Mbarushimana not be taken back to Rwanda, a provision largely imposed due to fears that he would not receive a fair trial there.

Last month, UN peacekeepers and DRC forces arrested [JURIST report] rebel group Mai Mai Cheka [GlobalSecurity backgrounder] leader Lieutenant Colonel Sadoke Kokunda Mayele for allegedly leading mass rapes [JURIST news archive], along with the FDLR and other rebel groups, in the DRC in late July and early August. Also last month, the UN released a report on war crimes [text, PDF; JURIST report] and human rights abuses in the DRC. The report, originally expected to be released in September [JURIST report], lists 617 of the most serious violations of human rights, including violence against children, genocide and mass rape, committed between 1993 and 2003. In addition, October saw the UN Security Council [official website] issue a statement condemning the recent mass rapes [text; JURIST report] and calling for justice for the victims.

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