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ICC appeals chamber declines to confirm charges against Rwanda rebel leader

The appeals chamber of the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] on Wednesday ruled [judgment, PDF; press release] that the pre-trial chamber did not err in ruling that there is not enough evidence to try Rwandan rebel leader Callixte Mbarushimana [ICC materials]. Mbarushimana was allegedly tied to the murder, rape and torture of Congolese villagers by Hutu militia in 2009. He was accused of being the Executive Secretary of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) [GlobalSecurity backgrounder] since 2007. In the decision, Judge Erkki Kourula noted that the chamber below found that the prosecution had no evidence materially linking Mbarushimana to any of his alleged crimes. The prosecution may resubmit charges against Mbarushimana if new evidence surfaces.

Mbarushimana was released from ICC custody in December. The ICC rejected the prosecution's request that it suspend an order to release Mbarushimana after Pre-Trial Chamber I declined to confirm charges [JURIST reports] against him earlier that month. Mbarushimana was ordered to stand trial [JURIST report] at The Hague by a French court in 2010. In 2008 he was arrested [JURIST report] in Germany trying flee to Russia. In 2005, the UN asked France [JURIST report] to bring charges against Mbarushimana, who was living with refugee status in the country. At the time the former prosecutor for the ICC said that it did not file charges because there was insufficient evidence to prosecute.

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