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ICC opens hearing for DRC war crimes suspect

The International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] on Friday opened the confirmation of charges hearing against accused war criminal Callixte Mbarushimana [case materials]. Mbarushimana, former leader of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) [GlobalSecurity backgrounder], is charged with 13 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) [BBC backgrounder] in 2009. In September 2010, the ICC issued a warrant [text, PDF] for Mbarushimana's arrest on charges including attacks against civilian population, murder, torture, rape, inhumane acts, inhumane treatment and persecution. On Thursday, ICC Judge Sanji Mmasenono Monageng decided [decision, PDF] that the prosecution could not disclose to the defense the name of the villages referenced by two witnesses or refer to this information at the confirming hearings. During the public confirming hearing, the ICC's Pre-Trial Chamber decides which, if any, charges will brought against Mbarushimana by the prosecution.

In August, Judges for the ICC postponed [JURIST report] the opening of Mbarushimana's confirmation of charges hearing, originally set for August 17, until September 16. 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 with the decision. Mbarushimana made his initial appearance [JURIST report] before the ICC in January and denied the charges against him.

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