Is it game over for Genocide convict, Vincent Murekezi? On Tuesday, he began a 21-day prison remand in Lilongwe, the capital of Malawi, pending conclusion of investigations in his graft related case that is supposed to precede his extradition trial.
Murekezi, who was arrested last week, stands accused of spearheading killings of Tutsi in his native Tumba Sector in Huye District during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, in which over a million innocent lives were lost.
He was tried and convicted in absentia by a Gacaca court, which handed him a life sentence, but the law allows for him to seek retrial in ordinary courts of law.
Despite this daunting prospect of being extradited home to face the most heinous crimes on planet earth, Murekezi appeared surprisingly cheerful outside a magistrate’s court in Lilongwe on Tuesday.
He cheerfully quipped: “God is on my side!” as he raised his handcuffed wrists to waiting reporters when armed policemen escorted him to the courtroom for recording of charges of bribery, tax evasion and corruption.
His bravado seemed to confirm reports in Malawi that a wealthy bishop was working behind the scenes to set him free with lots of prayers and bags of money.
The bishop leads a charismatic church, which has branches in Tanzania. This church has reportedly been bankrolling Murekezi’s clandestine life in Malawi and even, reportedly, his genocidal campaign that he continued to perpetuate.
Murekezi found refuge in Malawi after escaping from Rwanda. He is accused of paying huge bribes to Malawian businesspeople and some crooked government officials for contracts and documents that facilitated him to remain undercover.
He illegally obtained two passports: one in the name of Banda, which is a common name in Malawi, and the other in his own name, Murekezi.
The two passports enabled him to slip in and out of Malawi, Zimbabwe and other countries for years, until his cover was blown by newspapers in Malawi. This is in addition to a fake Rwandan passport that he holds.
Murekezi was arrested last December after the Rwandan government exerted pressure on their Malawian counterparts on the true identity of Murekezi: that he was a convicted Genocide fugitive on a wanted list in Rwanda.
Media houses in Malawi further focused the spotlight on Murekezi with reports and questions over how he obtained the two passports.
He will now be asked to answer in court charges of corruption, bribery and tax evasion before proceedings are set in motion for his extradition to Rwanda.
Given his track record so far, however, there are fears in some circles that he could manage to bribe his way out of prison and jump bail again, as he did before.
Sources told this writer that it was advisable for Rwandan government officials to come to Malawi to observe and possibly participate in the case of Murekezi.
A legal counsel of the state, touching on this possibility, told court that more information was sought from Rwanda on the complexity of the Genocide matter and on provisions of an extradition act between Malawi and Rwanda.
The scene has now been set. The public of Rwanda is expecting nothing less than justice to be served and another page to be turned on the sad and bloody history of Rwanda.
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