2 Rwandans jailed for planning attacks in DRC from Germany

2015-09-28 12:59

Stuttgart (dpa) - A German court sentenced two Rwandans to between eight and 12 years in prison on Monday for planning attacks in the Congolese civil war from Germany.

The main defendant, 52, received a 12-year sentence for being the ringleader of a foreign terrorist grouping and aiding and abetting in war crimes.

The second defendant, 54, received a sentence of eight years for ringleadership, but was able to walk free after spending many years on remand.

Both men were not named by the court, the Higher Regional Court in the south-western city of Stuttgart, in accordance with Germany's strict privacy laws.

Presiding Judge Juergen Hettich was severely critical of the massive legal proceedings, saying, "This is not the way it is done".

War criminals

He was especially critical of the international dimension to the trial, which he maintained was not under the control of the German code of criminal procedure. The judges had to clarify two years of a civil war in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, he added.

The court found that the main defendant was responsible for crimes in DRC in 2008 and 2009 as president of the Hutu militia FDLR (Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda). He guided attacks from Germany using a satellite telephone, SMS messages and emails.

The public prosecutor had charged the pair with crimes against humanity and war crimes and had sought a life sentence for the main defendant and 12 years for his co-defendant, while the defence team had pressed for their acquittal.

Both men had denied all charges during the more-than-four-year trial.

The verdict shows that "the world has become a smaller place for war criminals", said the rights group Human Rights Watch.

"The German court may be far away from eastern DRC, but its judges have finally delivered some justice to the thousands of Congolese who have suffered serious abuses by the FDLR," said Geraldine Mattioli-Zeltner, international justice advocacy director at Human Rights Watch.

Read more on:    drc  |  rwanda  |  east africa  |  central africa

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