ARUSHA - Michel Bagarabaza, a member of the inner circle (Akazu) of former President Juvenal Habyarimana, and major Genocide suspect, was Tuesday handed back to the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) by Dutch authorities.
The development comes after the revocation of an application by the ICTR Chief Prosecutor for referral of the case to national jurisdiction, according to a press statement issued by the Tanzania-based tribunal.
He was transferred following the revocation of the referral of his case to the European country on grounds that Holland does not have jurisdiction to try Genocide cases.
Bagaragaza who is a former managing of OCIR-THE, the country’s tea body was transferred to Holland following a plea bargain between him and the ICTR office of the Prosecutor.
During the bargain, for which he exchanged with providing information that could help the prosecutor in other cases involving other Genocide suspects currently on trial at the tribunal, Bagaragaza requested to be tried by a national jurisdiction in a European country.
The revocation took place following consultations in August last year between the ICTR and Dutch Prosecutors on the case. According to an ICTR indictment, Bagaragaza, is charged with four crimes of Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity all related to the 1994 Genocide. He was first subject for trial in Norway but the Norwegian law did not have any jurisdiction to try Genocide cases.
The decision to transfer him to the Scandinavian country was slammed by the Trial Chamber after it was found that on basis of the Norwegian existing law, he would only be tried of homicide and causing serious bodily harm, a crime that on conviction carries a maximum sentence of 21 years of imprisonment.
Transferring Bagaragaza back to the backlogged and time-barred tribunal could become a complex burden to the Office of Prosecutor given the fact that a plea bargain was struck between the suspect and the prosecution. Efforts to get a comment from the tribunal were futile as the ICTR spokesperson referred us to the Office of the Prosecutor.
“I have no authority to comment on plea bargain issues, the Office of Prosecutor has its spokesman,” said Roland Amoussouga, the ICTR publist.
Dr. Tim Gallimore, the prosecutor’s spokesman, could not be reached as his telephone was off.
Bagaragaza was regarded by the prosecution as a key witness who could shed light on the part played by members of Habyarimana, family, among them the former presidents widow, Agathe Kanziga and her brother, Protais Zigiranyirazo, commonly known as “Mr Z”.
Z is on trial at the ICTR while Agathe Kanziga is under investigation by a French court.