Germany’s top court has reopened a war crimes case against two suspected leaders of a rebel group operating in eastern Congo after an appeal was filed against their sentencing in 2015.
The suspected leader and deputy leader of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) should have been given longer sentences, prosecuting lawyers said Wednesday.
The men were sentenced to 13 and eight years in prison, respectively.
The FDLR is said to have killed numerous civilians in attacks on villages in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2009.
The defendants were accused of leading the FDLR remotely from Germany, where they both lived.
In 2015, a Stuttgart court found the men guilty of leading a terrorist organisation but said it did not believe they held enough power to prevent atrocities in Congo from happening entirely.
Their names have not been released in line with Germany’s strict privacy laws.
The defence has appealed the sentences on the grounds that the suspects were not given a fair trial.
Their lawyers said they were not provided with funds allowing them to travel to the region to seek favourable witnesses.
According to the prosecution, the FDLR aimed to take control over Rwanda from neighbouring Congo.
Its fighters were responsible for plundering the region and for terrorising civilians.
The FDLR is said to have killed 174 people and burned down entire villages.
The case was the first heard under a 2002 law allowing German authorities to prosecute crimes committed outside the country.
A ruling on the appeal is expected on Dec. 20.
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