The Court of Appeal in Sweden on Monday upheld the life sentence of Theodore Rukeratabaro, alias Tabaro, 50, who was last June handed a life sentence by a district court after being convicted for a role in the genocide against the Tutsi.
He immediately appealed against the decision and the appeal case started in September at the Svea Court of Appeal in the capital Stockholm.
Rukeratabaro was specifically convicted for masterminding killings in an area called Winteko, in the current Rusizi District.
Speaking to The New Times, Egide Mutabazi, a survivor of the killings masterminded by the convict said that “justice has been rendered because he killed our people.”
Rukeratabaro has exhausted his legal processes and will have to serve the sentence as rendered, according to officials.
“I thank all who helped in this long journey for justice starting from his arrest up today. We also especially thank the government of Rwanda for its tireless efforts in pursuing people who murdered our loved ones.
“One cannot also forget to thank the government and the justice system of Sweden for the manner in which they show respect in trials of the genocide committed against the Tutsi in Rwanda.”
Mutabazi said that survivors of the Winteko killings “from Mururu Sector in Rusizi District” as well deserve special thanks because they never lost heart when they were called upon to testify in the trial.
Mutabazi lost five close relatives, including his father, in killings masterminded by the convict.
At the end of a hearing which has been going on for almost half a year, the Court of Appeal announced its verdict.
According to its press release, the Court of Appeal, among others, considers that the accused had a leading role at local level and that he participated in murder, attempted murder, human rape and looting. It also ruled that the accused must be detained until he starts serving the sentence.
During the Genocide, Rukeratabaro, then a gendarme (present-day police) was involved in perpetration of the Genocide in his native Sector, Winteko, Nyakanyinya and Mibirizi where hundreds of Tutsi sought refuge.
Challenge for other countries
Speaking to The New Times, the Minister of Justice Johnston Businye said that this was another “big step” in judicial cooperation that justice has been served, adding that it is now evident that hiding out in a foreign country and even acquiring citizenship of that country should not be a barrier to justice.
“I call upon other countries in Europe hosting such suspects to stand up and be counted in the number of countries that did what it took to bring genocide suspects to justice.”
Rukeratabaro fled to Sweden in 1998. He obtained citizenship there in 2006.
Then he altered his name to 'Tabaro' to evade justice. Rwanda sent Rukeratabaro’s indictment to Sweden on September 12, 2014.
He had been living in Örebro, a Swedish city with 117,543 inhabitants.
The National Commission for the Fight against Genocide (CNLG) last June stated that Rukeratabaro is a high profile murderer who exterminated the Tutsi in the former Cyangugu Prefecture in the region of Winteko, in Kamparampaka stadium, in Nyakanyinya and Mibilizi.
According to CNLG, the convict very much believed in the cruel policy of the CDR party and its president, Martin Bucyana.
Before the initial trial begun in September 2017, Swedish judges came to Rwanda to gather evidence.
Rukeratabaro’s conviction last June was the third of its kind after Stanislas Mbanenande in 2014 and Claver Berinkindi in 2017.
These two, also genocide convicts, were also sentenced to life by Swedish Courts.