Rwanda is seeking the extradition of a Hutu rebel chief arrested in Mannheim on Saturday. He is accused of atrocities in the eastern Congo and of leading a force implicated in the 1994 Rwandan genocide, officials said.
Murwanashyaka's soldiers are accused of war crimes in Congo
Ignace Murwanashyaka, the German-based leader of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), was arrested by police in the town of Mannheim on Saturday.
"He entered Germany illegally and is now in custody pending deportation," said an official in Baden-Württemberg's Interior Ministry.
Murwanashyaka has been based in Germany for over 15 years, operating the political wing of the FDLR, an organization accused of participating in Rwanda's 1994 genocide in which Hutus killed some 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus.
"I only hope that the German government will either prosecute him for what he has done or allow other institutions to prosecute him," Rwandan Foreign Minister Charles Murigande told reporters.
Murwanashyaka's forces implicated in genocide
Continuing violence in eastern DRC is linked to FDLR troops
"Murwanashyaka is the head of the FDLR, which is blamed for atrocities in eastern DRC as well as (leading) people who have committed genocide and who are still bent on committing genocide," he said.
Murigande said Murwanashyaka would be a good candidate for prosecution by the International Criminal Court (ICC) if German courts were unable or unwilling to charge him.
Failing that, he said Rwanda might seek to try the FDLR leader in its own courts.
Murwanashyaka was detained by German authorities on Friday in the western city of Mannheim but police have not yet given any reason for his arrest.
Diplomats in Kinshasa said Murwanashyaka, who along with the leaders of other rebel groups in the eastern DRC has been subject to a UN travel ban and financial sanctions since November, had surrendered to German police.
Until the sanctions were imposed, Murwanashyaka had held a German residence permit but had been living since September in dense forests of the DRC's North Kivu province that borders Rwanda.
The diplomats said Murwanashyaka had left the DRC, managed to reach Uganda from where he took a plane to Belgium and then traveled to Germany.
Speculation over reason for leader's flight from Africa
Rebels, including child soldiers, are involved in dangerous power plays
Several observers said there had always been doubts over Murwanashyaka's control of the FDLR and suggested he might have left North Kivu out of fear he could be pushed aside in the movement.
"He obviously decided he'd be better off in the hands of the German police," said one diplomat in Kigali who spoke to AFP on condition of anonymity.
The FDLR is one of several armed groups accused of atrocities against civilians in eastern DRC.
In March last year, Murwanashyaka led an FDLR delegation to talks in Rome after which he announced the group had decided to give up its armed struggle against the Rwandan government and go home.
However, since then, few FDLR fighters have actually laid down their weapons and returned and the group still has between 8,000 and 15,000 men under arms.