KIGALI - The decision by France to create a special investigative unit as part of the Tribunal de Grande Instance (TGI) in Paris to expedite the prosecution of Genocide crimes has been welcomed by Rwanda, as it will help bring to justice hundreds of Genocide suspects hiding in the European country.
In an interview with The New Times, Justice Minister Tharcisse Karugarama said that the special unit will help in dealing with the many Genocide cases in France and also help prosecute those still on the run.
“We really welcome this development. It will be helpful in the judicial processes to bring those who committed the Genocide before the law,” said Karugarama, who also doubles as the Attorney General.
“There has been another unit handling cases related to Genocide, but now that a special unit is going to be put in place, we hope that it will facilitate efficient justice delivery.”
During his recent visit to the country, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said that as soon as the French Parliament approves the special unit, it will start to pursue Genocide suspects.
According to French Justice Minister Michele Alliot-Marie, France is planning to establish the service as part of a legal reform bill to be presented before Parliament in the first semester of 2010.
It is also reported that two more French TGI magistrates; Nicolas Aubertin and Brigitte Jolivet, will be arriving in the country soon to continue with investigations into the case of Pascal Simbikangwa.
Simbikangwa, a former Intelligence Officer before the Genocide, was arrested in the French overseas department of La Reunion for trafficking in forged papers, and transferred to a prison in metropolitan France in November 2009.
Last November, two French magistrates; Fabienne Pous and Michelle Ganascia from the same court, travelled to Rwanda to complete investigations on the pending cases of Wenceslas Munyeshaka and Laurent Bucyabaruta. The two are some of the most wanted Genocide suspects living in France.
The French Justice Minister warned that France, a major ‘proponent of international justice’ and a ‘cradle of human rights’, will not allow anybody who committed Genocide or crimes against humanity to live on French soil.
“The homeland of human rights, France will never be a sanctuary for those behind Genocide, war crimes, or crimes against humanity,” Alliot-Marie wrote in the French daily Le Monde.
The spokesperson of the French Justice Ministry, Guillaume Didier, said that once in place, the “judicial centre” will handle such crimes that involve anyone - French or not - who lives in or travels to France; meaning that even French individuals known to have participated in the Genocide could be tried.