Malawi Court dismisses Murekezi extradition case

The Lilongwe Principal Resident Magistrate Court yesterday (today) dismissed the extradition case against suspected Rwandan genocide convict Vincent Murekezi.
Murekezi (in handcuffs) waiting for remand documents before being driven off to Maula Prison. / Watipaso Mzungu
Murekezi (in handcuffs) waiting for remand documents before being driven off to Maula Prison. / Watipaso Mzungu

WATIPASO MZUNGU

Lilongwe, Malawi

 

The Lilongwe Principal Resident Magistrate Court yesterday (today) dismissed the extradition case against suspected Rwandan genocide convict Vincent Murekezi.

 

Principal Resident Magistrate (PRM) Patrick Chilunga Chirwa cited a number of irregularities in the manner in which the State presented the case in court and failure by the State to satisfy the requirements for extradition to countries, which have no bilateral treaties with Malawi.

 

Of course, Chirwa had acknowledged that Malawi and Rwanda had demonstrated enough interest to have Murekezi extradited.

The PRM emphasised that genocide is an extraditable offense, dismissing the defense, which had contended that it is not a relevant offense for extradition.

However, Chirwa agreed with the defense that Rwanda is not a designated country for extradition, and this makes it impossible for Malawi to extradite Murekezi.

He also stated that Malawi and Rwanda are not bilateral treaty; hence, the only way to transfer genocide suspects to their native countries is through the Minister of Home Affairs and Internal Security entering into arrangements with countries that are in bilateral treaties with countries where genocide crimes were committed.

Chirwa further disagreed with the State that under the London Scheme for Extradition, Customary and International Law and Malawi’s Extradition Act, Malawi is empowered Malawi Government to arrest and extradite people suspected to have committed genocide crimes activities in their native countries.

At this point, Chirwa said he was “baffled” to note that the minister did not take necessary steps to facilitate this extradition process.

“I therefore dismiss the case. The State is at liberty to regularise the process and bring the matter back [to court],” he said.

Defense lawyer Wapona Kita described the ruling as victory for justice.

On the other hand, senior chief state advocate Steven Kayuni said he would be consulting his superiors to chart the way forward.

Kayuni said there is high likelihood that the State will, in a matter of days’ time, work towards regularising the process.

“The most important thing is that Murekezi is still in custody. I can assure you that we’ll regularise the process as advised by the court and bring the matter back,” he said.

Meanwhile, Chirwa is on February 18 2017 expected to deliver his judgment on a corruption case involving Murekezi and the then Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA) official Komani Nyasulu.

The two are said to have committed the case in 2008. Nyasulu, who was the principal offender, pleaded guilty to the charge and was handed a community service sentence.

Police arrested Murekezi on December 8 2016 after a grouping calling itself Concerned Citizens piled pressure on government to have the Rwandese extradited over genocide case.

The suspected fugitive offender has lived in Malawi Malawi since 2003. He initially applied for temporary residence permit after securing police clearance.

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