Belgium pledges increased support to bring to book genocide fugitives

Rwanda Prosecutor General John Bosco Mutangana (left) and the Federal Deputy Prosecutor of the Kingdom of Belgium Phillippe Meire during the meeting in Kigali yesterday. Kelly Rwamapera.

The Belgian prosecution has agreed with their Rwandan counterparts to strengthen cooperation between the two entities to bring to book suspects responsible for the Genocide against the Tutsi, who are on Belgian soil.

The pledge was made yesterday by the Federal Deputy Prosecutor of the Kingdom of Belgium, Phillippe Meire, after his meeting with Prosecutor General Jean Bosco Mutangana.

The two discussed a variety of challenges that have inhibited bringing Genocide suspects to justice for the past 25 years, including extradition or charging suspects in Belgium, which Mutangana said it is good either way.

“It is welcome news for us, whether suspects are tried in Belgium or extradited to Rwanda, only that there is a challenge in charging suspects in a different country while evidence and witness are in Rwanda” he said.

The trial of Genocide fugitives in Belgian courts started in 2001 and by 2009, nine fugitives had been convicted of genocide and related crimes perpetuated against the Tutsi in 1994.

After 2009 no other Genocide suspect has been tried on Belgian territory but officials from the European country say they have worked with the Rwandan authorities on at least 10 Genocide cases.

No Genocide suspect has since been extradited to Rwanda.

The National Public Prosecution Authority says they have submitted 39 files of individuals responsible for the Genocide believed to be hiding in Belgium.

Meire explained to the media that the reason they halted trying Genocide suspects in 2009 is because his country has been engaged in combatting terror threats which diverted their attention from Genocide fugitives in their county.

“In the past one decade, my country has been involved in combatting terrorism threats which somehow affected the rhythm of pursuit of Genocide suspects,” he said

Meire promised to revive the momentum and work with their Rwandan counterparts to have all the 39 cases investigated before evidence and witnesses disappear.

“We have come to the conclusion with our friends in Rwanda that we should increase cooperation in all ways such that justice is delivered on time,” he said.

Rwanda and Belgium have no extradition treaty.

Since the Genocide, just 19 fugitives have been extradited or deported to Rwanda, out of the close to 1,000 indicted suspects that have found safe haven in different countries all over the world.