French court rejects extradition request for Genocide suspect

Survivors have once again felt let down by a French court after the rejection Tuesday of an extradition request for Manasse Bigwenzare, a former judge accused of participation in the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.

Survivors have once again felt let down by a French court after the rejection Tuesday of an extradition request for Manasse Bigwenzare, a former judge accused of participation in the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.

In addition to standing in the way of his extradition, the French appeals court in Versailles lifted legal restrictions on the 77 year old. The ruling is in contrast with the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda’s decision to send Jean-Bosco Uwinkindi, a Genocide suspect, to face trial in Rwanda. To date, no genocide suspects living in France have been extradited.

Bigwenzare is suspected of planning the Genocide together with the former Bougmestre of Murambi, Jean-Baptiste Gatete. The two allegedly participated in the massacres at Kiziguro Church on April 11, 1994.

The Executive Secretary of IBUKA, the main Genocide survivors’ association in the country, Janvier Forongo said: “If they refuse to extradite him, then they should be able to try him. But a trial would be much easier if he was brought here where the evidence is easily accessed, at the place where he performed the crimes. This is an important factor in these trials that should not be ignored”.

Bigwenzare was arrested in June at his home in the Val d’Oise area of Paris.

The Government of Rwanda issued an international arrest warrant against Bigwenzare in 2008, for charges including Genocide and crimes against humanity. He obtained refugee status in France in 2003 and became a French citizen in 2010.

Last September, the France-based victims’ organisation, Collectif des Parties Civiles pour le Rwanda (CPCR), filed a complaint against Bigwenzare.

CPCR Friday filed fresh legal complaints against former Minister of Public Works, Hyacinthe Nsengiyumva Rafiki, who they want extradited to Rwanda on genocide charges. Rafiki is scheduled to appear in the Paris High Court today.

james.karuhanga@newtimes.co.rw

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