Rwandan rebel leader Callixte Mbarushimana is charged

A Rwandan rebel leader was arrested in Paris yesterday on charges of leading rebels responsible for mass rape and killings in Congo, the International Criminal Court said.

Callixte Mbarushimana, of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda, known by its French acronym FDLR, was arrested on a secret warrant by French authorities. The court said he was charged with 11 counts of crimes against humanity and war crimes, including killings, rape, persecution based on gender and destruction of property committed by the FDLR in 2009.

No date has been set for Mr Mbarushimana to be transferred to The Hague. The FDLR was established by former guerrillas accused of genocide in Rwanda's 1994 ethnic slaughter. After moving to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the FDLR started attacks on Rwanda aimed at ousting the government.

Until his arrest, Mr Mbarushimana, 47, had lived openly in a Paris suburb even though he was on a UN sanctions list. He is executive secretary of the FDLR, which is accused of killing at least 700 civilians last year. He is also on Interpol's wanted list for genocide in Rwanda.

The court's prosecutor, Luis Moreno Ocampo, called the arrest a "crucial step in efforts to prosecute the massive sexual crimes" committed in the DRC. More than 15,000 cases of sexual violence were reported in the country in 2009 alone, the court said.