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ICC prosecutor pushes for arrest of rebel leaders wanted for DR Congo crimes

14 May 2012 – The Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) said today he is seeking new charges against Congolese rebel leader Bosco Ntaganda, as well as an arrest warrant for the head of a Rwandan rebel group, both of whom are allegedly responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

Luis Moreno-Ocampo told a news conference at United Nations Headquarters in New York that it is hoped that the two new arrest warrants will contribute to establishing peace and security in the Great Lakes region.

“We hope these two arrest warrants against leaders of militias… could help to stop the crimes,” he said.

In the first case, what is being sought is an expansion of a current arrest warrant against Mr. Ntaganda, who has already been indicted by the Court. Mr. Ntaganda was one of the top commanders in the militia led by Congolese warlord Thomas Lubanga Dyilo, who was convicted in March by the ICC for crimes in DRC.

In 2006, the ICC issued an arrest warrant for Mr. Ntaganda, who is currently a general in the DRC’s national army, for crimes committed against civilians in the Ituri region of DRC from 2002 to 2003.

Mr. Moreno-Ocampo said that an examination of the evidence collected during the Lubanga trial has led the Office of the Prosecutor to request an expansion of the arrest warrant against Mr. Ntaganda for murder, persecution based on ethnic grounds, rape, sexual slavery, attacking civilians and pillaging.

The second arrest warrant request is against Sylvestre Mudacumura, the supreme commander of the Rwandan rebel group known as the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda, or by its French acronym FDLR.

The most recent incarnation of Rwandan rebel groups established by Rwandan Hutus responsible for the 1994 genocide of Tutsis and Hutu moderates in Rwanda, the FDLR has been involved in crimes in eastern DRC for some time.

“The followers of Ntaganda and Mudacumura have to understand that it is time for them to demobilize and stop their crimes, even help in arresting the leaders,” said the ICC Prosecutor, whose term of office comes to an end next month.

He added that it is important that any new plan to attack these groups take into consideration the fact that past military operations against them have produced civilian casualties.

“So it’s time to refine the methods and we hope the Congolese army and the Rwandan army, if it is involved, can transform these military operations into arrest operations,” he stated.

The ICC, which is based in The Hague, is the first permanent international court set up to prosecute individuals for genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and the crime of aggression.

It can try cases involving individuals charged with war crimes committed since July 2002. The Security Council, the ICC Prosecutor or a State Party to the court can initiate any proceedings, and the ICC only acts when countries themselves are unwilling or unable to investigate or prosecute.

In addition to the situation in DRC, the Court has ongoing investigations in the Central African Republic, the Darfur region of western Sudan, Uganda, Kenya, Libya and Côte d’Ivoire.

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