Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Congo warlord may await trial in "neutral" country

By Eddie Bugingo

May 06, 2009

KIGALI (Reuters) - Congo's warlord Laurent Nkunda may be transferred from Rwanda to a third neutral country while the two African nations resolve outstanding legal issues regarding his fate, officials in the great lakes nations said.
The Democratic Republic of Congo wants Nkunda extradited for crimes committed during a brutal five-year rebellion in its east, during which he captured swathes of territory and threatened the regional capital Goma.

But, Rwanda say their national laws prevent them from handing over someone to a country where they may be sentenced to death, according to a joint statement by the two countries.

"We have to look at these legal impediments before we come up with a sellable outcome that satisfies both countries" Rwandan Justice Minister Tharcisse Karugarama told Reuters late Tuesday.

"Being Congolese, the Congolese law applies to him and being on Rwandan soil, the Rwandan law applies," the joint statement said.

Last month, Nkunda's lawyer filed an unsuccessful law suit in Rwanda seeking the rebel's release saying he was being held illegally.

Tiny Rwanda has fought two wars with is much larger neighbor saying it wants to root out Congo- based rebels.

The conflict is thought to have killed 5.4 million people between 1998 and 2003 and triggered a humanitarian disaster that still simmers today.

Written by Hereward Holland;
Edited by Wangui Kanina and Matthew Jones.


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