Rwanda wants case to set a precedence
QUEBEC - Following two years of legal battles, Quebec Superior Court Justice, Andre Denis, yesterday found Genocide suspect Desire Munyaneza guilty of all the seven counts he was accused of.
Munyaneza, 42, who was arrested in Canada in 2005 was found guilty of having participated in the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi. He is the first person to be tried under the seven-year old Canadian War Crimes Act.
Several Rwandans contacted after the landmark ruling welcomed the move but urged Canadian authorities to act swiftly in arresting and trying other suspects still holed up in the country.
“The good thing in this case is that it will set precedence for that country to apprehend others still roaming there, bringing them to book,” said Ibuka president Theodore Simburudari.
Ibuka is the umbrella body of the associations bringing together Survivors of the Genocide that claimed over a million people.
He said that for long, Canada has been a den for not only key suspects, but also revisionists of the Genocide, urging that the verdict should lay basis for Canadians not to give forum to such people.
“Now after the verdict Canadians who have been misled by those negationsists know the truth on which they should base denying them a forum,” said Simburudari castigating what he called the hate campaign that is spearheaded by some “so called elite, some of them professors at universities.”
The father of two was accused of masterminding killings in Butare, now in the Southern Province and is especially renowned for leading a campaign of raping hundreds of Tutsi women during the Genocide.
The Rwandan Diaspora in Canada also welcomed the ruling saying that it sends signals that Canada is lo longer a safe haven to perpetrators of the Genocide.
“Myself and on behalf of the Rwandan community here, I am of course delighted by the ruling which sets precedence in the Canadian judicial system,” said Dr Jean Kamanzi, the president of the Rwandan Diaspora in Canada.
“We also hope that the ruling will help draw media attention on another case of concern to the community, one that involves Leon Mugesera, one of the masterminds of the Genocide who is still in this country despite a Supreme Court ruling expelling him from Canadian soil.” However nothing has so far been done in extraditing him.
Mugesera, a former lecturer at the National University of Rwanda is renowned for having been the first person to introduce publicly the philosophy that Tutsis were from Ethiopia and should be sent back via River Nile.
Thousands of Tutsis were either killed or bound alive during the Genocide and thrown into River Nyabarongo — a tributary of the Nile — they ended up on the shores of Lake Victoria in Uganda
Munyaneza’s case saw 66 witnesses, most of them survivors, paraded by the prosecution.
He, like his father, was a businessman during the Genocide and is alleged of having worked closely with former Minister Pauline Nyiramasuhuko and her son Arsene Shalom Ntahobari who are currently awaiting verdict at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR).