Rwanda accused of stalling Congolese rebel’s trial


Rwanda is stalling a court case in which Congolese rebel leader Laurent Nkunda is seeking his release while President Paul Kagame negotiates a deal with his Democratic Republic of Congo counterpart, Nkunda’s lawyer said.

The case was adjourned for two months after the government’s defence team said the translator for Nkunda’s Canadian lawyer was unqualified and would need replacing.
“This is a situation between (Kagame) and (Democratic Congo President) Joseph Kabila,” said Nkunda’s lawyer, Stephane Bourgon.

Rwandan Justice Minister Tharcisse Karugarama rejected the accusation the government was deliberately slowing the process.

Traditional enemies, the Great Lakes neighbours mended relations last year in an accord analyst say hinged on Nkunda’s arrest and Rwandan help in splitting up members of his rebel group and integrating them into the Congolese army.

Nkunda, a Seventh Day Adventist pastor who led a five-year insurgency in eastern Congo, has been under house arrest since January 2009 and is currently held in Kabuga, near Kigali, his family said.

He is wanted in Kinshasa where he could face a tribunal for war crimes, treason and desertion, and has gone to court to seek his release from house arrest.
“Kagame wants to solve it but he says it is going to take time. Time is contrary to the law,” Bourgon told Reuters.

Karugarama said Nkunda’s detention was separate from the two countries’ rapprochement and the judicial process should be allowed to take its course.
“The two (issues) are divorced. There’s no way he could come to Rwanda, or be arrested in an operation, without being subjected to the rigours of the law,” Karugarama said.

Rwanda and Congo have fought two wars and for years traded accusations of backing each other’s rebels charges confirmed by the United Nations.

Pic: Laurent Nkunda