KIGALI - A Canadian federal court ruled that a Rwandan man accused of participating in the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi must be extradited to Rwanda to answer charges against him.
The court ruled that Faustin Rutayisire, 54 was “complicit” in the slaughter of Tutsis in Southern Rwanda in 1994 before fleeing to Canada and that the decision cannot be appealed against.
The Government of Rwanda welcomed the decision by the court but Justice Minister Tharcisse Karugarama said that he was not “unfazed”, until the extradition is effected but nevertheless welcomed the decision.
“It is probably a good development, that is very true but we will wait until the real extradition is effected. We have had several cases in the past where the court decides to extradite suspects but it actually never happens,” Karugarama said.
“You can only believe in it when it happens. We heard about that Judgement but we can only wait and see if it turns into reality. There are so many games people can play,” said Karugarama.
Last year, a Swedish court ruled for the extradition of Sylvere Ahorugeze and his extradition was later given green light by their Minister of Justice; however, the move was later frustrated by the European Human Rights Court.
In December 2009, the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada ruled that Rutayisire was “complicit by virtue of his association with the principle authors who committed crimes against humanity.”
The decision was upheld by the Federal Court last week on December 3. Rutayisire, a former mathematics teacher and sous-prefet of Butare prefecture in Southern Province, is likely to be extradited to Rwanda any time.
Karugarama said that in most cases, the suspects who are subject to extradition commit crimes in those particular countries and they end up getting more years in their countries of residence while at worst they end up in other countries before they could be extradited.
“We know people who had been actually ordered to be returned here but up to now they are still sitting in those countries. Actually there was one person who was supposed to be brought here. When they were putting him on the plane, he bit off the ear of the police officer and he was taken back and sentenced to 4 years for that,”
“Four years later when he was supposed to be returned, he ran mad on the plane and because other passengers were threatened, he was taken back and up to now, they are still stuck with the suspect,” said Karugarama without naming the individual or country of residence.
It is reported that in early May 1994, Rutayisire was appointed sous-prefet of Butare and when the massacres began in Butare on April 20, he used his position to influence militias to hunt for the Tutsi.
He served until July, when he fled to South Africa. He applied for refugee status in Canada and was granted permanent residence in 2003, but two years later the Canadian government began trying to extraditing him under the Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Act.
According to available evidence, Rutayisire was complicit in the death of Victor Nduwumwe, a senior teacher at the same ‘Ecole Sociale de Karubanda’ in Butare where the suspect worked.
Rutayisire denied any role in the genocide and claimed that he was afraid to turn down the job of sous-prefet under the interim government – most of whose members are facing Genocide charges at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, or have already been sentenced to lengthy jail terms.
The Canadian government will conduct a risk assessment to determine whether Rutayisire can be safely brought to Rwanda.
Canada is home to many genocide suspects.
In June, Canadian prosecutors charged Jacques Mungwarere with four counts of genocide while Desire Munyaneza of Toronto was sentenced to life in prison last year for his role.
Several requests by the Rwandan government to have them extradited have been futile but Canada has listed a number of those “likely” to be deported, including Leon Mugesera.