Rwandan rebel group chief arrested in France: ICC

The chief was wanted for war crimes and crimes against humanity in DR Congo.

The Hague: Rwandan rebel leader Callixte Mbarushimana, wanted for war crimes and crimes against humanity in Democratic Republic of Congo, was arrested in Paris on Monday, the International Criminal Court said.

"In accordance with the warrant of arrest issued under seals by the judges of the International Criminal Court (ICC) on 28 September, 2010, the French authorities arrested Callixte Mbarushimana, suspected of war crimes and crimes against humanity allegedly committed in the Kivus, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)," the court said in a statement.

Mbarushimana, 47, faces five charges of crimes against humanity and six war crimes charges for murders, rapes, torture and destruction of property, said the ICC.

The crimes were allegedly committed during a series of "widespread and systematic attacks" by FDLR fighters against civilians in DR Congo`s Nord Kivu and Sud Kivu provinces in 2009, according to ICC prosecutors.

Mbarushimana has lived in France as a leader-in-exile of the Rwandan Hutu rebel group the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), receiving refugee status in 2003.

ICC prosecutors said there were reasonable grounds to believe that Mbarushimana "personally and intentionally contributed" to plotting "widespread and systematic attacks against the civilian population in order to create a humanitarian catastrophe" that it could then exploit in an international media campaign to gain political concessions.

The Kinshasa government welcomed Mbarushimana`s arrest.

"It`s good news for the Democratic Republic of Congo and the whole Great Lakes region as Mbarushimana led from Europe the FDLR`s armed bands which spread death and destruction in our country and threatened security in their own country" Rwanda, government spokesman Lambert Mende said.

The FDLR traces its roots to Rwandan Army and Hutu Interahamwe extremist militia members who fled to DR Congo (then Zaire) when Tutsis took power in Kigali in July 1994 following the genocide in Rwanda.