The new prosecutor of the Residual Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunal (MICT), Serge Brammertz, has pledged to press France on Genocide cases transferred to its jurisdiction from the UN tribunal.
Brammertz announced this in Kigali, yesterday, after meeting with Chief Justice Sam Rugege, Prosecutor-General Richard Muhumuza, and Justice minister Johnston Busingye to devise practical means of ensuring the Mechinism – which replaced the the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) – delivers according to its expectations and in partnership with Rwanda.
There are two Rwandans in France who have been subject of a prolonged judicial battle.
Father Wenceslas Munyeshyaka, former vicar of St Famille Church in Kigali, was indicted by both ICTR and Rwandan judiciary.
After ICTR unsuccessfully tried to extradite him for trial, on November 20, 2007, it referred his case to France instead. But the Tribunal de Grande Instance of Paris, last October, dropped charges against Munyeshyaka, claiming prosecution had no sufficient evidence to implicate him.
The Rwandan government criticised the decision, describing it as “judicial comedy tinted with denial.” The government vowed to exploit all avenues possible to bring him to justice.
Munyeshyaka remains a priest in parishes of Gisors and the Epte Valley France.
On the other hand, Laurent Bucyibaruta, a prefet of the former Gikongoro and several other districts, stands accused of genocide-related charges, including mobilising, aiding and abetting in the killings of Tutsi in his home area of Gikongoro.
After the Genocide, Bucyibaruta fled to France. He was arrested in 2007 but the court of appeal in Paris released him. He was later arrested on warrant from ICTR and again released.
Brammertz said despite the ICTR dismal performance, he would exhort countries to help bring Genocide fugitives to book.
“I will visit several countries in the region and in the broader region where we think that fugitives are hiding and I will meet with members of the government where cases have been transferred, one of them will be France,” he said.
“I have no problem at all going to France to raise this issue with our colleagues there and to ask explanations why the situation is taking forever. It will be another meeting among colleagues, because I will go there as a UN prosecutor to meet prosecutors, investigators and judges.”
Describing it as France’s double standards, Minister Busingye yesterday said cases of the two suspects have never gone beyond preliminary investigations over the last 10 years.
“In spite of this state of affairs there is no talk of ICTR or MICT independent monitors going to investigate the quality of trials in France or putting Paris to task to explain why there is no progress, the way it is done for Rwanda,” Busingye said.
He also asked the newly-appointed prosecutor to pay special attention to tracking of the Genocide fugitives, transferred cases, Rwanda’s documents in ICTR Archives and the ICTR archives.
While Busingye commended the recent arrest and extradition of Ladislas Ntaganzwa from DR Congo, he noted that it was like a drop in the ocean since eight more Genocide masterminds remain at large.
“We were quite surprised to see how well Ntaganzwa looked when he was handed over to us. He looked like he had been living in comfort where he was and certainly not like a fugitive who had been in some DR Congo bush for 22 years hiding from the law.
“This suggests that many other fugitives can be arrested with serious tracking and political will. We need to enhance the ways to ensure that all Genocide fugitives are apprehended and prosecuted or extradited,” said the minister.
He also requested Brammertz to help Rwanda push for hosting of archives of concluded cases.
“What remains unaddressed is the urgent need to have a candid conversation about their mode of acquisition and their current legal ownership,” he added.
Brammertz was appointed on February 29 by the UN Security Council to serve as prosecutor of the Mechanism, replacing Gambian Bubacar Jallow.