MUHANGA - Genocide survivors have asked the visiting German President Horst Köhler to help extradite the leader of a genocidal force, Ignace Murwanashyaka, from the European nation.
The call was made yesterday by representatives of IBUKa, the national umbrella of the 1994 Rwanda Genocide survivors, during yesterday’s open discussion between President Köhler and Gacaca judges at the Rwanda Institute of Administration and Management (Riam) in Muhanga District, Southern Province.
Murwanashyaka is the leader of the DR Congo-based Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), which is largely composed of elements responsible for the Genocide in which an estimated on million people perished.
He flew to Germany two years ago from DR Congo in breach of a UN travel embargo, and his group was blacklisted by regional governments and the US as a terrorist group.
The survivors said continued existence of FDLR in DR Congo coupled with such individuals as Murwanashyaka was a threat to the recovery and development achievements the country has registered fourteen years down the line.
And the Executive Secretary of IBUKA Benoit Kaboyi told The New Times in Kigali that it was important for survivors to underline the problem of Murwanashyaka’s continued presence in Germany, from where he has continued to spread genocide propaganda with revisionist tendencies.
"It is important that such an individual is stopped," he said.
Köhler said that the process to act against Murwanashyaka had begun and that a decision by German judiciary was awaited.
The German President said that the process of attaining unity and reconciliation through Gacaca jurisdictions is an important lesson for Germans and the entire world.
Köhler, who is in Rwanda on a three-day visit, was in company of his wife, Eva Louise Köhler, and Christian Clages, the German ambassador to Rwanda.
The visiting President was welcomed by Protais Musoni, the Minister of Local Government, Fidel Ndayisaba, the Governor of the Southern Province and Domitila Mukantaganzwa, the Executive Secretary of Gacaca jurisdictions.
Köhler said that talking to the local Gacaca judges was an opportunity to learn the actual process of Gacaca court proceedings and said he would share the lessons with Germans back home.
"I have come to talk to the judges so that I can understand and get the real feel of how justice is delivered in this sense, and how unity and reconciliation has been achieved through these local courts" Köhler said.
He added that: "This experience is so different from the German justice system and the lessons will be important for my country to understand the reality so that we can better help Rwanda’s justice system"
Köhler posed various questions to the judges, representatives of IBUKA and the area residents.
The visiting President sought explanations on how Gacaca judges ascertain the authenticity of testimonies from Genocide suspects, how the Gacaca has helped re-unite Rwandans and the integrity of Gacaca judges.
"I have come to learn from the Gacaca system in Rwanda, especially on how the judges are able to find the truth and trust the testimonies of suspects; without any political influence in the process.
"How do you differentiate the truth from lies, and how independent and are the decisions of (Gacaca) courts in order to deliver justice to Rwandans?" Köhler asked.
In response, the judges said that the Gacaca jurisdictions are based on the Rwandan traditional justice system and that it offered the best chance for attainment of participatory justice, reconciliation and truth after the 1994 Genocide.
One of the judges explained: "We mainly to the Gacaca law and analysis of the truth is determined based on the testimonies from suspects, witnesses and as well as other residents."
The judges also stressed that participation of Rwandans was pivotal in attaining the truth and that the decision of judges reached after a panel of seven people has voted on the issue at hand.
The German President said he was pleased to draw lessons from Rwanda’s experience and promised that his country would take a lead role in supporting the government to meet it goals of unity and reconciliation.