New bid to extradite genocide fugitive Sylvère Ahorugeze

Ahorugeze, who was already living in Denmark, was arrested in Sweden as he sought to renew the passports of his family members at the Rwandan embassy in Stockholm.
Ahorugeze was arrested in Sweden in 2008 over his role in the Genocide against the Tutsi. File.

Prosecution has announced plans for a fresh bid to have Sylvère Ahorugeze extradited to Rwanda from Denmark, to answer charges of genocide and related crimes committed in 1994.

A former Director General of what is now Civil Aviation Authority, Ahorugeze has for years lived freely in the Nordic country despite the overwhelming evidence pinning him on his role in killing Tutsis in Rwanda 25 years ago.

He was arrested in Sweden in 2008 over an Interpol Red Notice issued by Rwandan prosecutors over his role in the Genocide against the Tutsi, but was released without trial after a few years in prison.

Ahorugeze, who was already living in Denmark, was arrested in Sweden as he sought to renew the passports of his family members at the Rwandan embassy in Stockholm.

He was neither extradited nor tried there for the crimes he committed despite an inquiry by the Swedish judiciary having established a prima facie case against him after an investigation.

Instead, he was released and quietly slipped back into neighbouring Denmark, where he has lived for close to a decade now, and goes about his normal life.

Ahorugeze is now in his early 60s.

“We are freshly engaging Denmark on this case,” said Prosecutor General Jean-Bosco Mutangana during a telephone interview on Thursday.

“He must be brought to justice since no substantive case was examined by the Danish court to try him on genocide and call witnesses to thus effect,” he added.

Ahorugeze, is accused of using his position of power to mastermind the killing of dozens of the Tutsi, especially in the Kigali suburb of Gikondo, where he lived at the time.

Survivors of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi who lived in Gikondo say the only thing that can bring a sort of closure for them is seeing this man brought to account for the death of their loved ones.

One of the survivors, who preferred to remain anonymous because he is a prosecution witness urged government to put more effort in bringing Ahorugeze back home for trial.

The suspect, the survivor said, was active in wiping out his and their neighbours during the Genocide.

The survivor said: “My wish is to see this murderer brought here to face justice. Here, because he committed the crimes here.

“Sadly this is a man we considered to be a family friend. This is someone I know very well. He was boss of the weather station at Gitega and also in charge of the airport. This was a very important man at the time, but a very bad man.”

The survivor stressed that government should by and large work harder to ensure that such Genocide fugitives are arrested and taken to court, wherever they are.

“Sometimes we are disheartened when we see nothing seemingly being done. Surely, the government has the clout and shouldn’t fail in ensuring that justice is done. It should not fail us.”

There is hope considering the fact that the Nordic country has already extradited two Genocide suspects to Rwanda.

Last April, a court in the Danish town of Hillerød ruled that Genocide suspect Wenceslas Twangirayezu – a regional leader of the Coalition for the Defence of the Republic (CDR) political party, an extremist outfit, in Gacurabwenge Sector in current Rubavu District, during the Genocide – be handed over to Rwandan authorities for prosecution over genocide crimes he committed in the former Gisenyi prefecture.

Last December, Danish authorities extradited Twagirayezu, 50, after he exhausted all legal avenues to contest his extradition to Rwanda.

Twagirayezu who was reportedly naturalised as a Danish citizen in 2004, having arrived in the Nordic country in 2001 was just is the second Genocide fugitive to be extradited from Denmark.

The first, Emmanuel Mbarushimana, was extradited in 2014 and tried and sentenced to life in prison in 2017, for his role in the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.