Rwanda ponders suing Spanish judge Merelles

KIGALI - The Government may lay formal charges against Spanish judge Andreu Fernando Merelles for illegally indicting Rwanda Defence Forces (RDF) officers, Justice Minister and Attorney General Tharcisse Karugarama said on Tuesday.
Karugarama.
Karugarama.

KIGALI - The Government may lay formal charges against Spanish judge Andreu Fernando Merelles for illegally indicting Rwanda Defence Forces (RDF) officers, Justice Minister and Attorney General Tharcisse Karugarama said on Tuesday.

“There is a universally agreed upon procedure of how indictments are issued. First of all, an indictment is issued after someone is summoned and fails to answer the summons,” said Karugarama. He added that the process of issuing indictments was a last resort when all other options have failed.

“We are still considering an option of taking him to court because of the unprofessional manner in which he handled the matter,” he said.

If sued, Merelles would be the second to face similar charges as the Government also last year filed a lawsuit against French judge Jean-Louis Bruguiere in a Belgian court.

Mid last year, the Rwandan Government petitioned the Belgian court to quash nine indictments issued by Bruguiere against members of RDF top brass.

“These people are working with well-known deniers (of the 1994 Genocide) and these documents are politically motivated,” said Karugarama. The minister added that the indictments are political documents rather than judicial.

“They (judges) did not link the crimes to the purported suspects.”

Asked which court the Government might petition over the Spanish judge’s indictments, Karugarama said that that would be decided at a later stage.

“What I can say is that many courts in the world are competent to receive this case. We shall look for one that will be more convenient and will not take a long time to pass the verdict,” he said.

The Spanish judge earlier this year issued indictments against 40 RDF officers, formerly in the Rwanda Patriotic Army (RPA).

Meanwhile, another case is before a Belgian court in which two Generals who had been indicted by Bruguiere sued for damages.

Chief of Staff (Land Forces) Lt. Gen. Charles Kayonga and the head of Civil-Military Relations (J5) Brig. Gen. Jack Nziza, petitioned the Belgian court and have asked for damages worth 120m Euros.

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