Paris: A Paris court on Wednesday ordered the extradition of a Rwandan rebel to the International Criminal Court, which accuses him of orchestrating killings and rapes in neighbouring Congo to gain political power.
The Paris appeals court said Callixte Mbarushimana could be extradited to the court in the Hague, Netherlands — but only on condition that he not be handed over to Rwandan authorities. Rwanda has the death penalty, which France opposes.
Mbarushimana, 47, plans to appeal the extradition ruling, lawyer Christophe Gouget said.
Mbarushimana, a leader of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda, or FDLR, was arrested in Paris last month.
He is charged with 11 counts of crimes against humanity and war crimes, including murder, rape, persecution based on gender, and extensive destruction of property by the FDLR in 2009.
According to court papers, Mbarushimana and other FDLR leaders are accused of "having used violence against civilians as their main bargaining tool" in an international campaign to win power for their group. The court said the rebels deliberately sparked "a massive humanitarian catastrophe," then offered to end the atrocities in exchange for political power.
Mbarushimana was on a UN sanctions list as executive secretary of the FDLR, which is accused of killing at least 700 civilians last year. He also was on Interpol`s Wanted list for genocide in Rwanda.
His lawyers have said he is being sought for political reasons. Gouget said the evidence provided by the International Criminal Court`s prosecutors is "piecemeal" and proves no guilt.
Mbarushimana has been in France since 2002, and received political refugee status in 2003. Before his arrest, he put out press releases for his rebel group from his apartment in a Paris suburb.