Callixte Mbarushimana

Callixte Mbarushimana during a confirmation of charges hearings at the ICC in The Hague 16 September 2011. © ICC-CPI/ANP Jerry Lampen/POOL
Suspected of crimes against humanity and war crimes, alleged executive secretary of the FLDR rebel group Callixte Mbarushimana was released from ICC custody in December 2011 after Pre-Trial Chamber I declined to confirm charges
Status
Concluded
Regions: 
Africa
Alleged executive secretary of the rebel group Force démocratiques de liberation du Rwanda (FDLR) Callixte Mbarushimana was charged by the ICC with five counts of crimes against humanity and eight counts of war crimes in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). He was released from ICC custody in December 2011, after Pre-Trial Chamber I declined to confirm charges against him. The majority of judges found that while there were sufficient grounds to believe FDLR troops committed war crimes during the period in question, the prosecution had not presented sufficient evidence to establish substantial grounds to commit Mbarushimana to trial.
Background

Conflict between Rwandan rebel group FDLR and DRC armed forces in eastern Kivu provinces

The Force démocratiques de liberation du Rwanda (FDLR) is a rebel militia based in eastern Congo since 1994 whose primary purpose is overthrowing the government of Rwanda. Although initially tolerated and even supported by the government of DRC, a change in policy around the start of the 2009 Kivus conflict saw the FDLR become a target of government military operations, leading to a period of intense internal conflict between the DRC armed forces and FDLR in the Kivus provinces. The alleged war crimes of FDLR in Busurungi and surrounding villages in 2009 have been characterized as being part of a retaliatory response to this.

Confrontations and reprisals between FDLR and DRC military operations in the Kivus in 2009 resulted in large-scale civilian fatalities, instances of rape, and displacement. NGOs at the time estimated that upwards of 900,000 civilians were forcibly displaced between January and August, over 6,000 homes were destroyed, around 7,000 cases of rape were reported, and approximately 1,193 civilian deaths had occurred by October 2009. 

Mbarushimana suspected of directing FDLR operations from France
The ICC arrest warrant for Mbarushimana - issued on 28 September 2010 - alleged reasonable grounds to believe that FDLR perpetrated crimes against humanity such as murder, torture, rape, inhumane acts and war crimes, including attacks against civilian villages between January and September 2009. 

Operating from his home in France, Mbarushimana was alleged to have served as Executive Secretary of the rebel group since 2007, and inherited additional powers after the arrest of FDLR’s president in 2009.

Mbarushimana is also alleged to have participated in the 1994 Rwandan genocide, along with several other FDLR leaders.

Charges

Mbarushimana was charged with five counts of crimes against humanity (murder, torture, rape, persecution, and inhumane acts of inflicting serious bodily injury and suffering) and eight counts of war crimes (attacks against a civilian population, murder, mutilation, torture, rape, inhuman treatment, destruction of property, and pillaging).

During the confirmation of charges hearing on 16 December 2011, the Pre-Trial Chamber I declined to confirm charges against Mbarushimana. The majority of judges found that while there were sufficient grounds to believe FDLR troops committed war crimes during the period of inquiry, the Prosecution had not presented sufficient evidence to establish substantial grounds to commit Mbarushimana to trial at the ICC for those crimes. 

In the confirmation decision, a majority of judges found that the prosecution must be able to reasonably allege that an accused made a “significant contribution” to be liable under Rome Statute Article 25(3)(d). In this case, the majority did not find enough grounds to believe that the attacks were part of a course of conduct to attack civilians in furtherance of an organizational policy by Mbarushimana. The Presiding Judge in the Chamber, however, did not agree that “significant” is necessary to commit a suspect to trial for contribution under 25(3)(d) and would have confirmed 12 counts against Mbarushimana.

Mbarushimana was released from ICC custody on 23 December 2011.

Victims

130 persons were authorized to participate as victims during the pre-trial proceedings. Reparations, however, were unavailable without a completed trial and final conviction.