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Press Conference on Arrest Warrants for Crimes in Democratic Republic of Congo, 14 May 2012

Department of Public Information . News and Media Division . New York

Announcing two new arrest warrants for serious crimes committed in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court said this afternoon that action on the warrants was critical to help end massacres of civilians in the eastern Kivu provinces of the vast country.

“Impunity is not a legal concept,” Luis Moreno-Ocampo told correspondents at a Headquarters press conference. “It has deadly consequences for civilians in the Congo”, he added, noting that the subject of one of the warrants, Bosco Ntaganda, had committed crimes in Ituri when a warrant was first issued against him. Having not been brought to justice, he was now committing egregious crimes in the Kivus.

Mr. Moreno-Ocampo said that the warrant against Mr. Ntaganda had been expanded to include charges of rape and murder during the period 2002-2003, due to new evidence uncovered during the Court’s first completed trial, that of Thomas Lubanga, for the use of child soldiers.

The second warrant announced today was for Sylvestre Mudacumura, Supreme Commander of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) for crimes committed from 2009-2010. Both men are accused of war crimes and crimes against humanity, including attacks against civilians, which included murder, rape and pillaging.

Belonging to opposing factions, they were the two most dangerous leaders in the eastern provinces, often punishing villages for alleged support of the other side, Mr. Moreno-Ocampo said. The pattern was similar: after a village surrendered, its residents were attacked, the village was looted and destroyed, and the survivors displaced.

The Prosecutor expressed hope that arresting the two would significantly decrease the violence, which, he underlined, had been occurring for the past 18 years in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He maintained that any new plan of the national armies to attack the militias should include arresting the leaders, transforming the military operations into arrest operations.

Asked about possible warrants for other alleged war criminals in that country, Mr. Moreno-Ocampo concurred that there were many crimes in the area, but the Court was trying to act on them in a methodical way, going after the groups doing the most damage to civilians. In addition, there was now the capacity to arrest the two figures in question. Justice in regard to the Mai Mai groups was complex and awaited more security in the areas concerned.

He expected, he said, Government cooperation in the case of Mr. Ntaganda, whose CNDP (Congrès national pour la défense du peuple) militia had been integrated into the national Armed Forces as part of a peace agreement a few years ago. The Prosecutor’s Office was in frequent contact with Congolese authorities, he said.

He said the case of Mr. Mudacumura was more complicated because he was protected by FDLR (Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda) troops, but he was hoping Congolese and Rwandan troops would actively facilitate the arrest, supported by the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO), the mandate of which included support of arrest operations as requested by Democratic Republic of the Congo authorities. Due to the comparative impact on the ground, the Court preferred not to try either figure in absentia, he said.

He deferred all questions on Libya to Wednesday, when he was planning to brief the Security Council on Court’s action in regard to crimes committed there. On Syria, he pointed out that the Court had no jurisdiction in the country.

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