Suspected war criminal to remain in jail

A man suspected of committing war crimes in the former Yugoslavia must remain in custody pending his possible extradition, a Swedish court ruled Thursday.

“It has been decided he should continue to be detained,” Marit Åkerblom, the Östersund district court judge on the case, told AFP.

The man, whose name has not been revealed but who police said is in his 40s, was arrested Tuesday in accordance with an international arrest warrant issued via Interpol.

He is “wanted for war crimes”, Bertil Olofsson, who heads the international section of the Swedish criminal police, told AFP Wednesday, adding that the man was not a Swedish citizen.

Swedish news reports said the suspect is 44-year-old Zemir Kovacevic, a Bosnian and Croatian citizen.

“The way it works is that the government now has to inform the country that has issued the international warrant for him. They then have 40 days to request his extradition,” Aakerblom said, adding that if no such request was made he would be released.

The court and police did not say what exactly the man was suspected of, nor when and where the crimes were committed.

Swedish tabloid Expressen however reported he was being held in connection with war crimes committed in the Bosnian village of Sijekovac in March 1992.

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German court told to retry Rwandan convicted of war crimes

A mammoth case against a Rwandan man accused of masterminding massacres in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo from his home in Germany, will have to be reopened, Germany's highest penal court ruled Thursday, overturning his conviction.

German court told to retry Rwandan convicted of war crimes
Murwanashyaka during an MDR interview 10 years ago in November 2008. Photo: DPA

The Federal Court of Justice Thursday confirmed the verdict against Musoni. But it found that part of the case against Murwanashyaka was flawed – both in his favour and against.

“The guilty verdict is therefore to be completely annulled, even though the conviction of the accused as a leader of a terrorist organisation was without 
legal error per se,” said the court.

Murwanashyaka had been found guilty of abetting five attacks by FDLR rebels 
on Congolese settlements in 2008-2009.

But the court said the initial verdict by the higher regional court of Stuttgart did not sufficiently prove that Murwanashyaka's support of at least one of the attacks was premeditated.

The judges ordered the Stuttgart tribunal to take a fresh look at his role in all five attacks.

They also disagreed with the previous decision not to judge the accused for crimes against humanity as well as war crimes.

Musoni was allowed to go free after the ruling because he had already been in pre-trial jail for almost six years and, therefore qualified for conditional release for good behaviour. Murwanashyaka currently remains in jail.

The original verdict in the case, after a trial that lasted more than four years, was at the time hailed as a breakthrough by the United Nations in efforts to bring FDLR commanders living abroad to justice.

The two Rwandans, who have lived in Germany for more than 20 years, were 
initially accused of 26 counts of crimes against humanity and 39 counts of war  crimes.

But over time that was whittled down to charges related specifically to the killings, in part because the court decided not to further tax the vulnerability of traumatised rape victims or child soldiers by making them appear before the hearing.

The judge back then said the difficulties encountered by the prosecution in  the biggest such trial in Germany as well as the length of time the case took had been “unacceptable”.