Saturday, August 25, 2012

ICC asked to prosecute Rwanda's Kagame over DR Congo

Rwandese President Paul Kagame speaks in London in July. Opponents of Rwanda's long-time leader asked the International Criminal Court on Friday to pursue him over war crimes committed in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
17 AUGUST 2012 - 17H26  

AFP - Opponents of Rwanda's long-time President Paul Kagame asked the International Criminal Court on Friday to pursue him over war crimes committed in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

UN experts in a June report accused Kagame of supporting with arms and ammunition the rebels of the March 23 (M23) movement, which is fighting in the DR Congo's volatile east. Kigali has denied the charge.

M23 has been fighting the Congolese army since April after a mutiny was spurred by Tutsi army general Bosco Ntaganda, nicknamed "The Terminator", against whom the ICC issued a fresh arrest warrant last month.

"We are asking the prosecutor to indict Paul Kagame," said Nkiko Nsengimana, a coordinator of Rwanda's United Democratic Forces (FDU) party. The FDU is the party of opposition leader Victoire Ingabire and is not recognised by Kigali.

Close to 100 protesters gathered outside the ICC's heavily-fortified building in The Hague where they chanted slogans such as "Kagame, assassin!" and "Kagame under arrest".

"The M23 is simply a Rwandan army," Nsengimana added, calling Kagame "its supreme leader".

Lawyer Christopher Black said the request to prosecute Kagame for war crimes committed since March was filed on behalf of the FDU and a second opposition group, the Rwandan National Congress.

Black said Kagame should be prosecuted for war crimes, including the M23's alleged use of child soldiers.

Florence Olara, spokeswoman for Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda's office, acknowledged receipt of the request, saying "we will analyse the information received as we do with all... communications to the Prosecutor."

But she added: "We receive hundreds of such communications every year from all types of sources relating to the situations we investigate as well as others and we treat all of them equally."

The ICC is the world's first permanent tribunal, set up in 2002 to deal with the most serious crimes of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.

It has issued several arrest warrants relating to the conflict in the eastern DR Congo, including against militia leader Thomas Lubanga, who was sentenced to 14 years in jail on July 10 for using child soldiers in his rebel army. Ntaganda however, remained at large.

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