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Düsseldorf
Image: Presse Oberlandesgericht Düsseldorf

3 sentenced for Rwanda terror

December 5, 2014

A German court has convicted three men for links to an ethnic Hutu militia involved in killing Congolese citizens. The court found in 2011 and 2012, the two main suspects had posted rebel propaganda on the Internet.

https://p.dw.com/p/1DzxC

On Friday, the regional high court in Düsseldorf found 51-year-old Bernard T., and 45-year-old Felicien B. - both German citizens and, in line with national privacy rules, identified only by their last initials until the verdict is final - guilty of membership in the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda, known by its French acronym FDLR. The court sentenced the two men to four and three years in prison respectively, and gave a third German national, the 68-year-old Jean-Bosco U., a two-year suspended sentence for supporting the group.

The FDLR is a "well-organized, extremely powerful and, therefore, especially dangerous terrorist organization," the judges said in their verdict.

Officially dedicated to the overthrow of Rwanda's government and made up of former members of the country's military and Hutu militiamen - partly responsible for the 1990s genocide that left more than 800,000 people dead - the FDLR operates in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). However, the court found that the men had aided the group's campaign of murder, rape and recruitment of child soldiers while living in Germany - and got 35 witnesses to testify to that effect. Judges said that the FDLR was a well-organized and dangerous group that had committed severe crimes and used propaganda of the type disseminated by the defendants to aid its violent campaign against innocent Rwandans.

FDLR
The FDLR has been active for nearly 15 yearsImage: DW/S. Schlindwein

The verdict and the sentences are not yet final. The German Supreme Court could revise them.

A number of national and international militia groups operate in the DRC, and residents have protested at the inability of UN peacekeepers to protect them from the violence caused by such lawless and borderless factions. In an interview with DW, Martin Kobler, the head of the UN mission in DRC said that such groups must "be combated with determination."

mkg/lw (AFP, epd, dpa, AP)

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