Judgement of the Higher Regional Court of Stuttgart, 5 - 3 StE 6/10, case of FDLR leaders: Ignace Murwanashyaka and Straton Musoni
Oberlandersgericht Stuttgart Urteil vom 28.9.2015, 5 - 3 StE 6/10
||Oberlandersgericht Stuttgart (Higher Regional Court of Stuttgart)
On 28 September 2015 the Higher Regional Court in Stuttgart handed down convictions in the trial of two Rwandan leaders of the Hutu militia group FDLR. Ignace Murwanashyaka, president of the Forces Démocratiques de Libération du Rwanda (FDLR) and Straton Musoni, his vice president, were on trial for committing grave breaches of international law in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo in 2008/2009.
Both were accused of coordinating abuses committed by the FDLR between January 2008 and July 2009. In particular, they have been said to be responsible of the attacks in Kipopo, Mianga, Busurungi, Kubua and Manje. The FDLR reportedly killed several hundred civilians, pillaged and burned down numerous villages and left many women raped or subjected to other forms of sexual violence. Numerous child soldiers are said to have been recruited by force in order to carry out such operations.
They were sentenced to thirteen and eight years in prison respectively. Murwanashyaka was sentenced to 13 years of imprisonment for being a leader of a foreign terrorist organization and for aiding in the commission of war crimes in relation FDLR attacks against certain villages of Eastern Congo (paragraph 129 b of the German Criminal Code). However, the court considered that there were not enough link between the political command and the military command to convict him of war crimes and crimes against humanity under the command responsibility principle. It is also interesting to note that, under German legislation, war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in the context of a terrorist organization are qualified as a terrorist acts. Musoni was sentenced to 8 years of imprisonment for leadership in a foreign terrorist organization.
The FDLR war crimes trial marked the first time that a German court applied the German Code of Crimes against International Law (Völkerstrafgesetzbuch), which was introduced in 2002 to bring German criminal law into line with the criminal provisions in the statute of the International Criminal Court.