A recent decision by a German court to free two genocide fugitives who were meant to be extradited to Rwanda, to face justice, will not deter efforts by the National Public Prosecution Authority (NPPA) to track down other fugitives.
The dismayed NPPA authorities, said they could not fathom the reason for this decision.
The German court on Monday, released Callixte Mbarushimana and Onesphore Rwabukombe, the former who was once employed by the United Nations (UN) in Kigali while the latter is a former mayor of Muvumba, before the 1994 genocide.
“We are definitely dismayed by the verdict because of all the efforts we put in preparing these cases, but this will not deter us from our continued efforts to track down these fugitives,” Augustin Nkusi, the NPPA spokesperson said yesterday during an interview.
“They (judges) seem not to give value to the atrocities that befell Rwanda to an extent of releasing the perpetrators even with all the evidence that they had against them. A man like Rwabukombe played a big role in killing people in the eastern province,” Nkusi said.
The duo was arrested earlier this year in reaction to an Interpol Red Notice that followed their International Arrest Warrants issued by the Rwandan Government.
Rwabukombe was arrested in April this year while Mbarushimana was caught three months later in July.
A core member of the extremist Coalition for the Defence of the Republic (CDR) party, Mbarushimana, is also the Executive Secretary of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDRL).
Operating from the Democratic Republic of Congo, the FDRL is a rebel movement that has been blacklisted as a terrorist group and a negative force made up of elements responsible for the 1994 Tutsi Genocide.
Mbarushimana was arrested in the German city of Frankfurt after travelling there from France ,a country where he moved freely despite the arrest warrant on his head.
“You never know, maybe there is a connection between these judges and the French government which has been protecting these fugitives,” speculated Nkusi.
In a statement Mbarushimana’s attorney attributed the release of his client to the collaboration between the French and German judicial authorities.
When contacted, John Bosco Mutangana, the head of the Genocide Fugitives Tracking Unit said that their efforts remain undeterred despite the ruling.
“We had a very strong case against these men and we went as far as translating the indictment and other documents into German which cost the government dearly but we are not discouraged,” Mutangana said in an interview.
Mutangana said: “The unit will continue investigating and sending indictments to Interpol and those countries where these people are hiding and we shall remain respectful of these judicial organs.”
On both suspects, Rwanda had sent extradition requests to have them brought for trial. Meanwhile, legal experts are pointing an accusing finger at the recent verdict by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) Trial Chamber which turned down the request by the tribunal’s Prosecutor to have some cases referred to Rwanda.
Five cases including that of notorious Jean Baptiste Gatete—the former mayor of Murambi commune—had been referred to Rwanda but the trial chamber turned down all these requests.
In response to this Mutangana again reiterated the NPPA’s stand of respecting the independence of the judiciary.
“We believe in the independence of the judicial organs of every country and we do not think that they can in anyway be influenced by the ICTR decision,” he said.
He said that some countries are supporting them by acting on the warrants, giving an example of the United Kingdom and Sweden.
Countries that arrested and subsequently released fugitives include France which has so far released all the five who were arrested there while Denmark arrested one Sylvaire Ahorugeze and later released him.
Ahorugeze was later rearrested in Sweden and his extradition is still pending.
There are Four other fugitives detained in the UK also pending extradition to Rwanda, while the latest arrest was made last week in the Comoros Islands and this one was of former member of the Death Squad Pascal Simbikangwa.