BY FELLY KIMENYI
The Prosecutor General Martin Ngoga has expressed worries over the recent disclosure by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) chief prosecutor, Boubakar Jallow, to transfer cases and convicts to the French jurisdiction.
He was addressing the UN Security Council on Monday in New York, US.
“My Government has serious concerns with this, principally because well-known fugitives continue to live in that country (France) with impunity. We intend to raise this issue with appropriate authorities at the highest level,” Ngoga said in a statement seen by The New Times.
Rwanda has always decried France’s reluctance to help apprehend Genocide suspects still at large on its territory. The fugitives include former First Lady Agathe Habyarimana and Wenceslas Munyeshyaka, who was sentenced to life imprisonment in absentia by Rwandan courts of law.
Rwanda also accuses France of participating in the Genocide.
In his presentation, Ngoga also called for the Security Council to cooperate with Rwanda in apprehending fugitives that are scattered in various UN member states. “We are appealing to the Council to take urgent measures to ensure that indictees do not evade justice,” Ngoga said of the fugitives that are still at large.
He added that the ICTR completion strategy shouldn’t be an exit strategy for the commitments of the international community to ensure that these fugitives are brought to justice, either by the Tribunal before the end of 2008 or in national jurisdictions after 2008.
“We therefore urge the Council to take necessary measures to ensure that all States cooperate in apprehending and handing over these fugitives for trial,” said Ngoga who was accompanied by the presidents of IBUKA and AVEGA, both associations of Genocide survivors.
He said that Rwanda welcomes the recent move by the ICTR prosecutor regarding the transfer of suspects to Rwandan jurisdiction, saying that Kigali is prepared in this regard.
“The Rwanda Government and the (ICTR) Prosecutor have made remarkable progress with respect to referral of cases,” he said, the example of the organic law No.11/2007 that was promulgated to govern all legal matters pertaining to referral of cases to Rwanda.
Recently, the ICTR prosecutor moved a motion to have the case of one Fulgence Kayishema transferred to Rwanda.
Kayishema is still at large, but according to sources, Jallow is preparing another motion to transfer three suspects who are in detention at the ICTR detention facility.
The identities of those suspects remain unknown.
Ngoga also called on the Security Council to back Rwanda’s bid to have convicted suspects serve their sentences in the country.
“Rwanda believes that the ICTR convicts must serve their sentences in Rwanda where they committed the crimes and where they should be seen serving their sentences,” the prosecutor general said.
The ICTR, an ad hoc tribunal located in Arusha, Tanzania was established by the UN Security Council in 1994 to try masterminds of the Rwanda Genocide.
Almost 13 years on with a budget of millions of dollars, the tribunal has completed only 33 cases with five acquittals. The court reportedly spent a staggering $31million (approx. Frw17 billion) on each of these cases.