Two Rwandan Hutu leaders have gone on trial in Germany over alleged atrocities in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Ignace Murwanashyaka, head of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), and his deputy Straton Musoni face 26 counts of crimes against humanity and 39 of war crimes.
Because both of them live in Stuttgart, they are subject to a new German law which allows foreigners to be prosecuted for crimes committed outside the country. The two men are accused of ordering militias to commit mass murder and rape during 2008 and 2009.
The prosecutors say the FDLR shot people who would not co-operate with them, used rape as a weapon of war, and burned down whole villages. A lawyer representing one of the accused claimed the trial was unfair.
The 1994 genocide in Rwanda involved Hutu extremists killing Tutsis and moderate Hutus. When the Tutsi-led Rwandan Patriotic Front came to power, many Hutus fled across into Congo, sparking years of unrest. Between 1998 and 2003, 5 million people died in what became known as ‘Africa’s world war.’
(See also my blogs of Jan 23, March 23, Sept 23, 2009, Sept 3 and 9, 2010.)