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Rwanda Urges More Arrests After France Blocks Rebel’s Appeals

Rwanda urged France to arrest all genocide fugitives living in that country after a French court rejected an appeal by rebel leader Callixte Mbarushimana against a ruling that he surrender to the International Criminal Court.

“We acknowledge every single good development, but there are many fugitives still living freely in France,” Rwandan Prosecutor-General Martin Ngonga said in a phone interview today from Kigali, the capital.

Rwanda’s government accuses leaders of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda, or FDLR, an ethnic Hutu-dominated rebel group based in eastern Congo, of participating in the 1994 Rwandan genocide that left 800,000 people, mostly Tutsis, killed. Mbarushimana, executive secretary of the FDLR, was taken into custody at his home in Paris on Oct. 11.

The Cour de Cassation, the highest court in the French judiciary, yesterday refused appeals by Mbarushimana against the Cour d’Appels of Paris’s decision to refuse his request for interim release and ordering his surrender to the ICC, his lawyer, Nick Kaufman, said in an e-mailed response to questions today. “My client denies all charges presented against him and believes that his arrest is both an assault on the right to free speech and politically motivated,” Kaufman said.

Mbarushimana, a Rwandan, is accused of war crimes and crimes against humanity for attacks committed by FDLR rebels in eastern Congo in 2009, the ICC said in October. Hutu rebels first fled to eastern Congo after the Rwandan genocide. They formed a succession of rebel groups, including the FDLR, and preyed upon the Congolese population.

“Most of the crimes he is accused of were in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and it is a case for the ICC, which we think is competent to handle it,” Ngonga said. “Our position is that all FDLR leaders should be pursued and brought to justice, and where it is done from does not matter.”

The ICC is also investigating the FDLR’s involvement in attacks in August 2010 in which hundreds of civilians were raped, Pascal Turlan, the court’s international cooperation adviser, said in October.

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