Kayonga-Nziza lawsuit in Belgian court today

The long awaited case filed by Lt Gen. Charles Kayonga and Brig. Gen Jack Nziza in the Belgian Grand Instance Court is slated to be heard today, in Belgium. The two Generals filed a case in 2007 contesting indictments issued against them by French judge Jean Louis Bruguière who alleges that the Generals, who were part of the Rwandese Patriotic Army (RPA), had a role in downing the plane carrying former Rwandan President Juvenal Habyarimana. Kayonga is the army chief of staff, while Nziza heads J5 in the Rwanda Defence Forces (RDF).
Charles Kayonga and Jack Nziza.
Charles Kayonga and Jack Nziza.

The long awaited case filed by Lt Gen. Charles Kayonga and Brig. Gen Jack Nziza in the Belgian Grand Instance Court is slated to be heard today, in Belgium.

The two Generals filed a case in 2007 contesting indictments issued against them by French judge Jean Louis Bruguière who alleges that the Generals, who were part of the Rwandese Patriotic Army (RPA), had a role in downing the plane carrying former Rwandan President Juvenal Habyarimana.

Kayonga is the army chief of staff, while Nziza heads J5 in the Rwanda Defence Forces (RDF).

According to Justice Minister and Attorney General Tharcisse Karugarama, the case is about the violation of the principle of Universal Jurisdiction, abuse of judicial procedures, human rights abuse and the abuse of the right of free movement among others.

Asked why the two senior RDF commanders chose to challenge the legality of the indictments in Belgium, Karugarama said: “the case is also filed against France and Belgium for taking on the indictments. That is why it was filed in Belgium so that justice can take its right course.”

Both Kayonga and Nziza are requesting that the charges be dropped and be given an opportunity to tell their side of the story, an opportunity they were denied by the judge before issuing the indictments.

Several bodies, including the African Union have called for the scrapping of these indictments on the basis that they were issued contrary to the norms of the international law and that they were politically motivated.

These are the same indictments that led to the arrest of the Director of State Protocol Rose Kabuye in Germany in November last year, and her subsequent transfer to France to face her accusers.

Some of other demands that the Generals made in their petition to the Belgian court is the unconditional nullification of the arrest warrants.

Meanwhile activists say that Bruguière breached two norms in his attributes as an investigating magistrate: the presumption of innocence and the secrecy of the investigatory phase that constitute a violation of international conventions, notably the European Convention on Human Rights.

Most of the star witnesses on whose testimonies the judge based to build his case have since retracted their statements, including Abdul Joshua Ruzibiza, a former officer in the RPA who accused the judge of working in cahoots with the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR).

FDLR are elements made up of perpetrators of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi who are based in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).Ruzibiza says that they arranged his meeting with Bruguière.

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