German court convicts 2 Rwandans over Congo crimes

AP News
|
Posted: Sep 28, 2015 10:48 AM

BERLIN (AP) — A German court on Monday convicted two Rwandan men on terrorism charges for playing leading roles in a mostly ethnic-Hutu militia, and found one of them guilty of being an accessory to war crimes committed in eastern Congo.

The conviction at the Stuttgart state court of Ignace Murwanashyaka and Straton Musoni — the former president and vice president of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda — capped a trial that lasted over four years. It was welcomed by Human Rights Watch as a sign that "the world has become a smaller place for war criminals."

Murwanashyaka, 52, and Musoni, 54, were both convicted of leadership in a terrorist organization, and Murwanashyaka also was found guilty of four counts of being an accessory to war crimes. Murwanashyaka was sentenced to 13 years in prison and Musoni to eight years — though, because of time already spent in custody, he won't have to serve any further time.

Both men have lived in Germany since the 1980s. The court said that Murwanashyaka was the international representative of the group, known by its French acronym FDLR, coordinated its activities, and as a member of its executive committee issued statements denying or covering up crimes it committed.

It found that, in that role, he facilitated attacks by FDLR militiamen in 2009 on the Congolese villages of Mianga, Busurungi, Chiriba and Manje, though it didn't find evidence that he ordered the attacks as a military commander.

Musoni worked closely with Murwanashyaka, helping oversee the group's diplomatic, financial and administrative activities, the court found.

The two men were arrested in Germany in November 2009.

The FDLR is made up mostly of Hutu refugees from Rwanda who took cover across the border in Congo after the 1994 genocide in which more than 500,000 people were killed, mostly ethnic Tutsis but also moderate Hutus.