THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — A Rwandan rebel accused of orchestrating a humanitarian catastrophe against Congolese villagers in a blackmail scheme to leverage more political power for his group in Kigali was arrested in Paris on Monday, the International Criminal Court said.
Callixte Mbarushimana (pronounced KA-lixt em-ba-ROO-shee-mana), a leader of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda, known by its French acronym FDLR, was taken into custody on a secret warrant issued two weeks ago by the Hague-based tribunal.
Alain Gauthier, who heads an advocacy group for Rwandan genocide survivors, praised the arrest but said Mbarushimana also should be tried for the 1994 Rwandan genocide.
The court said he was charged with 11 counts of crimes against humanity and war crimes, including murder, rape, persecution based on gender and extensive destruction of property committed by the FDLR in 2009.
According to court papers, Mbarushimana and other FDLR leaders are accused of “having used violence against civilians as their main bargaining tool” in an international campaign to extort from Rwanda and the international community political power for the FDLR.
In a statement summarizing allegations against Mbarushimana, the court said the rebels deliberately sparked “a massive humanitarian catastrophe” then offered to end the atrocities in exchange for political power.
“As a result of this deadly blackmail, victims were killed, raped, and forcibly displaced, and entire villages were razed to the ground,” the court alleged.
No date has been set for Mbarushimana to be transferred from Paris to The Hague.
The French Foreign Ministry said in a statement the arrest “shows France’s constant will to fight impunity.”
In Congo, government spokesman Lambert Mende also welcomed the arrest.
“It’s a good, good thing considering the multiple crimes committed by the FDLR, which Mbarushimana managed from abroad,” he said. “His Congolese victims demand justice for the crimes committed in their country.”