KIGALI - The Justice Minister has lauded the decision by the Court of Appeal of Paris to transfer former Sous-prefect of Gisagara in the Southern Province, Dominique Ntawukuriryayo, to the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) for trial. Ntawukuriryayo lost an appeal in France’s highest court, meaning that the ruling marks the end of his legal efforts to thwart the extradition.
“It is a good decision. He had his chance to plead his case right from the Court of First Instance,” said Tharcisse Karugarama who is also the Attorney General.
He said that the decision showcases a good sign of judicial cooperation between the ICTR and the French authorities.
He urged the French judiciary to take a bold step and transfer some of the suspects who are staying in France to Rwanda for trial.
“This should only be the beginning to show further cooperation, it should not only stop with the ICTR. We are waiting for the day when they will decide to transfer suspects to Rwanda,” added the minister.
Ntawukuriryayo was arrested on October 16 in Carcassonne, south-west France, under an arrest warrant issued by ICTR in September last year.
His arrest followed those of former parish priest of St Famille church, Wenceslas Munyeshyaka and the former Prefet (Governor) of the former Gikongoro, Laurent Bucyibaruta.
The UN tribunal has however requested that Munyeshyaka, who was tried and convicted in absentia by the Rwanda Military Tribunal, be tried by French courts.
Munyeshyaka was convicted together with Maj. Gen Laurent Munyakazi over their responsibility in the killing of thousands who had sought refuge at the St Famille church during the Genocide.
Bucyibaruta is indicted for the massacre of over 25,000 Tutsi who had camped at Kabuye Hill, Southern Province, between 21 and 25 April 1994.
The ICTR which was established by the United Nations Security Council to try key architects of the Genocide, has until December this year before its mandate expires and it still has trials that have not yet began.
Apart from the three, France also has in its custody two other key Genocide suspects who were arrested on warrants issued by Rwanda’s Office of the Prosecutor General.
They are former businessman Claver Kamana and Lt Col Marcel Bivugabagabo, a senior member of the former Rwandan army (Ex-FAR).
Last month, a French court ruled that Kamana be extradited to Rwanda but he has since appealed against this verdict in a higher court.
The Office of the Prosecutor, through the recently established Genocide Fugitives Tracking Team, has issued several arrest warrants against various fugitives most of are believed to be in European countries.