Rwanda rejects Laurent Nkunda's appeal for release
A Rwandan court rejected a lawsuit brought by captured Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) rebel leader Laurent Nkunda seeking his release from Rwandan custody. Nkunda was apprehended by Rwandan authorities in January near the DRC border after a joint DRC-Rwandan military operation to capture him and root out Rwandan Hutu rebels operating in the DRC. He is the leader of the National Congress for the Defense of the People (CNDP), a rebel group operating in the eastern DRC province of Nord-Kivu. According to Nkunda's lawyer, he is being held illegallywithout charges or access to counsel. Nkunda faces an uncertain legal future, with the DRC government having called on Rwanda to extradite him to face charges for atrocities committed by forces under his command.
Another possibility for Nkunda is extradition to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague. While there is no arrest warrant or case outstanding against Nkunda, the ICC has issued an arrest warrant and prepared a case against his deputy in the CNDP, Bosco Ntaganda, for war crimes committed in the DRC, including the recruitment and use of child soldiers. Nkunda has repeatedly denied allegations of war crimes against him and the CNDP.
In November, head of the UN Peacekeeping Mission to the Democratic Republic of Congo (MUNOC) Alan Doss condemned the killing of civilians in Nord-Kivu by militia groups as war crimes. Prior to Doss' statement, MUNOC announced that it had received "credible reports" that civilians had been targeted by militia groups including Nkunda's CNDP. Earlier in November, ICC Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo reasserted that the ICC has jurisdiction over war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide committed in Nord-Kivu, and that his office intends to punish those responsible. (Jurist, April 21)
See our last post on the struggle for Central Africa.