September 20, 2009 / 5:12 PM / in 9 years

Congo transfers suspect to Rwanda genocide court

KINSHASA (Reuters) - Democratic Republic of Congo transferred to the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) Sunday a man accused of the massacre of at least 2,000 Rwandan Tutsis during the 1994 genocide.

Gregoire Ndahimana will go on trial at the ICTR, a tribunal set up in Tanzania to tackle the most serious crimes committed during the 1994 genocide, when around 800,000 Rwandan Tutsis and moderate Hutus were slaughtered during 100 days.

“We have done humanity a service, because the crime of genocide is an attack upon the peace and security of humankind,” Congo’s Justice Minister Luzolo Bambi Lessa said after Ndahimana boarded a plane to take him to the court.

Ndahimana, a local administrator in the Rwandan town of Kivumu in 1994, was arrested last month by Congolese soldiers.

According to his ICTR indictment, he is responsible for the deaths of at least 2,000 Tutsis, most of whom were killed when Hutus bulldozed the church where they were being held.

ICTR prosecutors believe almost all of Kivumu’s 6,000 Tutsi residents had been killed by July 1994.

The tribunal, based in the Tanzanian city of Arusha, was seeking Ndahimana’s arrest for genocide or complicity in genocide, conspiracy to commit genocide, and crimes against humanity for extermination.

Ndahimana was captured during operations by Congo’s army against Rwandan Hutu rebels, who are known as the FDLR and include in their ranks some members of the Hutu militia that carried out the 1994 killings.

Most of the former Rwandan military and Interahamwe militia members responsible for the genocide fled to Congo after Tutsi rebels, led by Rwanda’s current president, Paul Kagame, came to power and ended the killing.

Their presence in eastern Congo, Rwanda’s giant western neighbour, served as a pretext for two Rwandan interventions, which sparked a 1998-2003 war and humanitarian catastrophe that has claimed 5.4 million lives over the past decade.

However, relations between the two countries have dramatically improved this year and Ndahimana’s arrest follows joint operations between Congo and Rwanda’s army against the Rwandan Hutu rebels still in Congo’s east.

Twelve other ICTR indictees remain at large.

Editing by David Lewis

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