LONDON - Four Rwandan Genocide suspects were part of a “widespread and systematic plan” to carry out genocide of Tutsi Rwandans during the civil war 13 years ago in which up to one million people were killed, it was alleged at a London court on Monday.
During the trouble Hutus slaughtered members of the Tutsi ethnic group with machetes and in December last year officers from the Metropolitan Police Extradition Unit seized the four men from their UK homes following a request from the Rwandan Government for their extradition.
They were arrested in a series of 9pm raids last December and face charges in Rwanda of killing Tutsis, conspiring to kill them and aiding and abetting to kill.
The charges all relate to incidents said to have taken place between January 1, 1994 and December 12, 1994. If returned to Rwanda, they would face trial but would not face the death penalty.
As they appeared at City of Westminster Magistrates Court, in the first case of its kind involving genocide, a fierce battle began to prevent their return.
However, the court was told by James Lewis, QC, for the Rwandan government, said their actions caused “thousands of Tutsis to be killed.”
The men facing the risk of extradition are : Vincent Bajinya, 46, of Rerdington House, Priory Green, Islington, also known as Dr Vincent Brown; Charles Munyaneza, 49, of Needwood Road, Bedford; Celestin Ugirashebuja, 50 of Garden Road, Walton on the Naze; and Emmanuel Nteziryayo, 45, of Newhey Road, Manchester.
They all face charges in Rwanda of Genocide, conspiracy to commit Genocide, complicity in Genocide and crimes against humanity.
They are also accused of premeditated murder and conspiracy to commit murder, formation, membership, leadership and participation in a criminal gang, inciting aiding or abetting public disorder and participation in act. Mr Lewis claimed in his opening submissions that as a result of the actions of the four men facing extradition, “alone or in consort with others, thousands of Tutsis were killed”.
He alleged that in 1994 Bajinya had been a member of the ruling party, the Movement Revolutionnaire National pour le Development (MRND), for a number of years. During late 1991 or early 1992 he attended its congress held in the Amahoro National Stadium.
“On or around 7 April 1994 Bajinya was seen leading the Interahamwe militia and was himself armed with a machete,” said Mr Lewis.
“Bajinya organised roadblocks. He ordered the militia to kill those who were suspected of being Tutsis.”
Bajinya himself personally manned roadblocks which became littered with dead bodies.
“He led the militia who searched the houses of Tutsis and killed them in their homes. Those who tried to escape were killed at their roadblocks.
“Bajinya was responsible for the killing of mothers and their children. For example, after killing a mother and child, he taunted the victim who was stripped naked.”
He told the court that, prior to the Genocide, Munyaneza was a bourgmestre - an area commander - and a member of the ruling political party.
“It is alleged that prior to and during the Genocide, he was instrumental in ensuring that the plans for Genocide were carried out in his commune and elsewhere in the surrounding area,” he said.
Mr Munyaneza was bourgmestre of the Kinyamakara commune, the court heard.
Mr Lewis said: “He organised the training of the Interahamwe militias, he instituted and supervised road blocks established to identify Tutsis from the identity cards which separated ethnic groups.
“Once the Tutsis were identified they were killed by the Interahamwe.”
He claimed he had organised the training of Interahamwe Hutu militia to participate in the systematic massacre of the Tutsi.
“During the Genocide he was involved in a number of operations where he co-ordinated Tutsi to seek refuge in public buildings in the knowledge that, once there, they would be killed,” he said.
“He was instrumental in ensuring there were members of the Interahamwe surrounding the supposed place of refuge in order that they may kill any fleeing Tutsis. Further he planned and co-ordinated the pursuit of Tutsi who had fled to communes in the neighbouring Butare.
“Charles Munyaneza spread the message that the Tutsi must be killed in a number of public speeches within the commune.”
Nteziryayo was also a bourgmestre, he told the court. And he said that, as a member of the ruling party, he organised militia training and instituted and supervised roadblocks to identify Tutsis.
Nteziryayo, the court heard, was bourgmestre of the Mudasomwa commune, and allegedly handed out weapons, oversaw roadblocks and once drove Tutsis to a police station to be killed.
“During the Genocide he was involved in a number of operations where he co-ordinated Tutsi to seek refuge in public buildings in the knowledge that they would be killed and instrumental in ensuring members of Interahamwe surrounded the place,” said Mr Lewis.
Ugirashebuja, another bourgmestre was said to have visited sectors in his commune urging residents to identify their enemy, told people to “destroy and bring down the structures of houses they burned and remove dead bodies so foreigners could not find evidence and discover what happened.”
Mr Lewis told the court that Ugirashebuja had “organised roadblocks with the aim of preventing the escape of Tutsis. Many Tutsis were killed at the roadblocks.”
Mr Ugirashebuja was bourgmestre of the Kigoma commune. He is also accused of organising road blocks, urging Hutus to kill Tutsis and distributing guns. The hearing continues.