THE HAGUE, May 30 – The Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Court (ICC) has dismissed the prosecution’s appeal against the decision issued by Pre-Trial Chamber I, declining to confirm charges against Rwandan rebel leader Callixte Mbarushimana.
The prosecution had lodged three appeals, two related to the power of the Pre Trial Chamber to evaluate evidence at the confirmation of charges stage hearings and a third appeal on the significance of contribution of a suspect in the commission of crimes.
The offences were allegedly committed in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo in 2009, but the ICC in December last year ruled that the prosecution’s evidence was too weak to merit a trial.
Mbarushimana was charged with five counts of crimes against humanity (murder, inhumane acts, rape, torture and persecution) and eight counts of war crimes (attacking civilians, murder, mutilation, cruel treatment, rape, torture, destruction of property and pillaging), which were allegedly committed in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo in 2009.
Mbarushimana is alleged to have been, since July 2007, the Executive Secretary of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) whose leadership is alleged to have decided to launch an offensive targeting the civilian population.
Presiding Judge Erkki Kourula explained that the Appeals Chamber rejected the first two grounds of appeal, related to the Pre-Trial Chamber’s power to evaluate the evidence at the confirmation of the charges stage saying that the confirmation hearings were essential before cases go to trial.
“The confirmation of charges hearing exists to ensure that cases and charges go to trial only when justified by sufficient evidence,” Judge Kourula stressed in excerpts posted on the ICC website.
The Appeals Chamber found that in determining whether to confirm charges under Article 61 of the Rome Statute, the Pre-Trial Chamber may evaluate ambiguities, inconsistencies, contradictions or credibility doubts in the evidence.
The Appeals Chamber also rejected the third and last ground of appeal, related to whether, under Article 25(3)(d) of the Rome Statute, the contribution of the person must be “significant”, because the alleged error did not materially affect the decision of the Pre-Trial Chamber.
Judge Kourula highlighted that the Appeals Chamber’s judgment relates only to the issues submitted in appeal and should therefore not be seen as endorsing the Pre-Trial Chamber’s factual findings.
Mbarushimana was released from the ICC’s custody on December 23, 2011 upon the completion of the necessary arrangements, as ordered by Pre-Trial Chamber I.