Quest to transfer genocide trials to Rwanda begins today

KIGALI - Rwanda will today present its case to the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) when the court sits to hear arguments on the possible transfer of Genocide suspects to Rwanda for trial. A reliable source at the ICTR told The New Times Wednesday that Rwanda’s Prosecutor General, Martin Ngoga, is already in the northern Tanzanian town of Arusha- where the UN tribunal is based- to plead Rwanda’s case.
Prosecutor General, Martin Ngoga. (File photo).
Prosecutor General, Martin Ngoga. (File photo).

KIGALI - Rwanda will today present its case to the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) when the court sits to hear arguments on the possible transfer of Genocide suspects to Rwanda for trial. A reliable source at the ICTR told The New Times Wednesday that Rwanda’s Prosecutor General, Martin Ngoga, is already in the northern Tanzanian town of Arusha- where the UN tribunal is based- to plead Rwanda’s case.

“He will make a presentation on behalf of Rwanda as Amicus Curiae (friend of court). The outcome of the hearing on the transfer of former businessman and Interahamwe militia leader, Yussuf Munyakazi, may be binding to all other cases,” said the source.

Apart from Munyakazi, three other people, including the  notorious former Mayor of Murambi, Jean Baptiste Gatete, have been lined up for possible transfer to Rwanda under Rule 11 Bis, which provides for the transfer of some cases from the ICTR to competent national jurisdictions.

Others targeted for transfer to Rwanda are former Rwandan army (Ex-Far) officer, Lt Ildephonse Hategekimana and former businessman Gaspard Kanyarukiga. A fifth suspect, a former judicial official,  Fulgence Kayishema, is still at large.
ICTR has until the end of this year to have wound up all trials though appeals will be handled until the end 2010.

Ngoga is also expected to invalidate claims by some human rights organisations, notably the Human Rights Watch, which also filed an amicus curiae brief urging that Rwanda is not competent to handle the cases.

According to our source, argument by the human rights organisation may not carry any water following a recent decision by a French tribunal.

Three weeks ago, the Chambery Court of Appeal in France, approved an extradition request from Rwanda for a former businessman, Claver Kamana.

In passing judgement, court ruled the suspect would receive an impartial hearing and that “there is no evidence that Rwandan prisoners suffer any kind of persecution or other inhumane acts whatsoever”.

It added that all measures had been taken by the government of Rwanda in respect to detention and incarceration.

“It is not about someone being punished for his ethic origins, or one who risks a summary and partial trial; it is about a criminal who was found guilty for crimes established and punished by law for which he has to answer before a legally established justice system, the ruling read in part.

“Once extradited to Rwanda and detained, Kamana Claver will enjoy appropriate conditions in a prison approved by a team experts from the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda that they meet international standards”.

The ruling also adds that the death penalty was abolished and that Kamana was guaranteed a fair and impartial trial with the assistance of a counsel of his own choice.

The appeals court quoted article VII of the 1948 Genocide convention, which states that: “Genocide and other acts enumerated in article III shall not be considered as political crimes for the purpose of extradition”.

The 70-year old Kamana was arrested in February this year following a red alert notice published by Interpol. A prison meeting international standards has been built in Mpanga, Southern Province where the suspects are expected to be detained if transferred.

Two prominent Rwandan lawyers; Jean Haguma and Athanase Rutabingwa will assist Martin Ngoga in his quest to transfer Yussuf Munyakazi’s trial to Rwanda. Today’s procedure is expected to be telecast live at the ICTR liaison office based in Remera.

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