ARUSHA - The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) has ruled against the transfer of a Genocide suspect to Rwanda for trial.
The prosecution had requested tribunal to transfer the trial of genocide suspect Yusuf Munyakazi, a former businessman and Interahamwe militia leader, and four others.
In a judgment released to the media Thursday, the Trial Chamber composed of Judges Inés Mónica Weinberg de Roca (Argentina), Lee Gacuiga Muthoga (Kenya) and Robert Fremr (Czech Republic) said they were not satisfied that all necessary tools were in placed to guarantee a fair hearing.
Apart from Munyakazi, four other people, including the notorious former Mayor of Murambi, Jean-Baptiste Gatete, had been lined up for possible transfer to Rwanda under Rule 11 Bis, which provides for the transfer of some cases from the ICTR to competent national jurisdictions.
The Prosecutor of the ICTR has the discretion to select cases for possible transfer of cases and Munyakazi’s would have been the first to be transferred to Rwanda.
Others who were targeted for transfer to Rwanda are former Rwandan army (Ex-Far) officer, Lt Ildephonse Hategekimana, businessman Gaspard Kanyarukiga, and a fifth suspect, a former judicial official, Fulgence Kayishema who is still at large.
Rwanda’s Prosecutor General Martin Ngoga had appeared as Amicus Curiae (friend of the court) in the hearing.
ICTR has until the end of this year to wind up all trials though appeals will be handled until the end 2010.
“We are deeply disappointed,” said Ngoga of the ICTR ruling. “We will consult with the ICTR Prosecutor General for the next course of action.
Munyakazi charged for genocide, or alternatively, with complicity in genocide, and extermination as a crime against humanity. He is alleged to have committed the crimes in Cyangugu and Kibuye prefectures, in the current Western Province.
He is accused of having delivered weapons, uniforms and other logistics to the Interahamwe and instigated the killing of Tutsis at Kabusunzu. He is also accused of actively taking part in the murder of Tutsis who had sought refuge in Cyangugu cathedral, and in three parishes of Bisesero.
Born in 1935, Yusuf Munyakazi was arrested on 5 May 2004 in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and transferred to the UN detention facility in Arusha on 7 May 2004.
Over a month ago, the Chambery Court of Appeal in France approved an extradition request from Rwanda for a former businessman, Claver Kamana.
In passing judgment, court ruled the suspect would receive an impartial hearing and that “there is no evidence that Rwandan prisoners suffer any kind of persecution or other inhumane acts whatsoever”.
It added that all measures had been taken by the government of Rwanda in respect to detention and incarceration.