A prosecutor at the High Court Chamber for International Crimes, in Nyanza, on Tuesday, March 10, outlined seven charges during the opening of the substantive hearing in the case of two top commanders of the FDLR militia.
The two are the former FDLR spokesperson Ignace Nkaka, best known as La Forge Fils Bazeye, and Lt Col Jean-Pierre Nsekanabo, the Head of the Intelligence of the outfit, arrested last year by Congolese authorities.
Treason, belonging to an illegal armed group, killing people and looting are the first three charges, which prosecutors detailed.
On the offence of treason, which both suspects are accused of, as evidence, court heard that the duo were initially arrested while coming from a meeting in Uganda where they had been meeting with leaders of Rwanda National Congress, a terrorist group.
As regards the creation and being members of an illegal armed group, court was initially taken through the origins of the anti-Rwanda militias based in eastern DR Congo.
The latter sprouted from the militia groups that crossed into DR Congo, from Rwanda, after slaughtering more than a million people during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
Court heard that both men, at different times, in 1997 and 1998, joined what was then called the Army for the Liberation of Rwanda (ALiR) and became senior members before it turned into FDLR.
Their third charge, killing people and looting, court heard, was mainly committed on Rwandan soil by ALiR between 1996 and 1998 in the former Byumba, Kibuye, Ruhengeri, Cyangugu, Gisenyi, and Kigali Ngali Prefectures.
During this period, insurgents comprising ex-FAR and Interahamwe elements caused havoc in several parts of the country, often infiltrating from their bases in DR Congo, killing people and running back or hiding in rural communities where they still had support.
Among others, prosecution noted that they are also responsible for the attack on refugees in the Mudende camp in which nearly 200 people died.
The duo is also blamed for an attack in the same period in which several attacks resulted into the death of innocent civilians.
Four other charges to be detailed next month.
Court was, however, adjourned 15 minutes past 1pm before the prosecutor was done presenting details and evidence.
By the time court adjourned, the prosecutor had only been able to go into detail about the charges of: treason, belonging to an illegal armed group, as well as killing people and rooting.
The hearing was adjourned to April 16, when prosecutors will carry on detailing the charges and the evidence they gathered.
The four other charges are: spreading wrong propaganda aimed at tarnishing the Rwandan government’s image abroad, launching armed attacks on Rwanda, being members of terrorist groups, and carrying out terror activities for political ends are the seven charges.
Nkaka and Nsekanabo were extradited to Rwanda early last year by the DR Congo.
Congolese security forces arrested them, in December 2018, at the Bunagana border crossing which links Uganda to DR Congo, as they returned from a trip in Uganda.
In April 2019, they appeared before a judge at Gasabo Primary Court in Kigali.
In January, the court sitting in Nyanza postponed the substantive hearing of the case. It was the second consecutive postponement by the Nyanza-based court.
The first trial was postponed in December last year as Beata Dukeshinema, Nsekanabo’s lawyer threw in the towel saying her conscience did not allow her to continue representing him owing to the crimes he stands accused of.
Court then pushed the trial to give time to Nsekanabo to get another lawyer.
The court had ruled to postpone the substantive hearing to today so that all parties come ready to start the case.