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Rwandan rebel: I am innocent of Congo war crimes

 FILE - In this Oct. 15, 2009 file photo Rwandan Callixte Mbarushimana is seen during an interview with The Associated Press in Paris, France. The Int...
 FILE - In this Oct. 15, 2009 file photo Rwandan Callixte Mbarushimana is seen during an interview with The Associated Press in Paris, France. The Int...
 An overview of the court room is seen as Rwandan Callixte Mbarushimana, second left, makes his initial appearance at the International Criminal Court...
 Rwandan Callixte Mbarushimana is seen during his initial appearance at the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands, Friday, Jan. 28, 2...
 Rwandan Callixte Mbarushimana, center, is seen during his initial appearance at the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands, Friday, J...
 Rwandan Callixte Mbarushimana, second left, is seen during his initial appearance at the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands, Frid...
 Rwandan Callixte Mbarushimana, left,  talks to his lawyer during his initial appearance at the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands...
 Rwandan Callixte Mbarushimana is seen during his initial appearance at the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands, Friday, Jan. 28, 2...

Netherlands War Crimes Congo

FILE - In this Oct. 15, 2009 file photo Rwandan Callixte Mbarushimana is seen during an interview with The Associated Press in Paris, France. The Int...

Netherlands War Crimes Congo

FILE - In this Oct. 15, 2009 file photo Rwandan Callixte Mbarushimana is seen during an interview with The Associated Press in Paris, France. The Int...

Netherlands War Crimes Congo

An overview of the court room is seen as Rwandan Callixte Mbarushimana, second left, makes his initial appearance at the International Criminal Court...

Netherlands War Crimes Congo

Rwandan Callixte Mbarushimana is seen during his initial appearance at the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands, Friday, Jan. 28, 2...

Netherlands War Crimes Congo

Rwandan Callixte Mbarushimana, center, is seen during his initial appearance at the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands, Friday, J...

Netherlands War Crimes Congo

Rwandan Callixte Mbarushimana, second left, is seen during his initial appearance at the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands, Frid...

Netherlands War Crimes Congo

Rwandan Callixte Mbarushimana, left, talks to his lawyer during his initial appearance at the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands...

Netherlands War Crimes Congo

Rwandan Callixte Mbarushimana is seen during his initial appearance at the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands, Friday, Jan. 28, 2...

A Rwandan rebel told war crimes judges Friday that he was not involved in what prosecutors describe as a murderous 2009 bid for power in Congo.
Callixte Mbarushimana spoke at his first appearance at the International Criminal Court since he was handed over by French authorities on Tuesday. He was arrested in Paris last October.
"All my life I have fought injustice, hatred of other people and all forms of exploitation of human beings and I will continue to fight that in all its forms," he told judges at his arraignment.
Mbarushimana, a leader of the Hutu rebel group Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda, is accused of 11 counts of crimes against humanity and war crimes by his rebels, including murder, rape, persecution based on gender, and extensive destruction of property.
Mbarushimana had been on Interpol's list of wanted fugitives for alleged involvement in the Rwandan genocide in 1994, but he was arrested in connection with crimes in 2009 in Congo's Kivu provinces, where Hutu militants from Rwanda have been active.
Prosecutors allege his FDLR fighters deliberately targeted civilians "in order to ultimately obtain political concessions."
And while Mbarushimana lived in France at the time, prosecutors say he "personally and intentionally" contributed to the criminal plan by leading an international campaign seeking political power, waged from his Paris apartment.
Among the allegations against him are that FDLR forces forced men to rape and mutilate women in Congo's North and South Kivu provinces. On one occasion in May 2009, they slit open the bellies of pregnant women and tore out the fetuses, prosecutors allege.
Mbarushimana, who told judges he was a computer engineer, was not required to enter a plea on Friday. But he insisted he was "in no way involved" in any of the crimes.
"I condemn attacks on innocent civilians," he said.
Mbarushimana's lawyer Nicholas Kaufman said he would file a formal request soon for his client to be released pending further hearings.
The court scheduled a hearing for July 4 to weigh prosecutors' evidence and determine whether it is strong enough to merit sending Mbarushimana to trial.
The court's chief prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, said earlier this week that prosecuting the FDLR leadership is "a step toward justice for all victims, peace for the region, hope for the populations."
Mbarushimana is the fifth suspect in the court's custody, four of them accused of crimes in Congo. He had been in France since 2002, and received political refugee status in 2003.
France had refused to arrest him on the genocide charges because it does not extradite citizens of countries that have the death penalty.


Updated : 2021-07-24 13:54 GMT+08:00