The New Times (Kigali)

29 September 2011

Rwanda: French Court Blokes Agathe Habyarimana Extradition

Prosecutor General Martin Ngoga has said that Rwanda is 'disappointed' but not 'surprised' by the decision of a French court to rule against the extradition of former First Lady, Agathe Kanziga Habyarimana.

The Paris Appeals Court, yesterday, ruled that France must not extradite the wife of Rwanda's former president Juvenal Habyarimana, to Rwanda to face charges related to the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.

Ngoga emphasised that despite the court's decision, Rwanda will continue with efforts to seek justice.

"The decision not to extradite Mrs Agathe Habyarimana is disappointing, but we will not relent in our efforts to bring genocide suspects to justice," Ngoga said.

"We expect our French counterparts to explore other available options including having Mrs Habyarimana tried for genocide in France, an option that Rwanda does not object to".

In May this year, Mrs. Habyarimana's request for asylum in France was rejected by the French Interior Ministry, raising hopes that the extradition request, sent two years ago, could be effected.

Rwanda wants the former First Lady, who is a core member of the inner circle (Akazu) of the former regime to answer charges of genocide and crimes against humanity.

French authorities detained her last year, but she was released on condition that she stays in France as her case remained in court.

Several human rights groups have been up in arms campaigning against the eminent extradition of one of the renowned planners of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, and Ngoga has challenged the same groups to go ahead and push for her trial in France.

"We also wait to see if the human rights groups that opposed her extradition, will call upon France to bring her to trial or whether they will choose to support impunity," he said.

The Executive Secretary of the National Commission for the Fight against Genocide (CNLG), Jean de Dieu Mucyo, also echoed that the ruling was a setback to the justice process.

"She was supposed to be returned here to face the charges. The court did not give any tangible reason," Mucyo said.

"Rwanda has made it clear that it has the capacity to try these cases, but the same excuse is always given. The French Government should know the truth about the case."

Reacting to the news, the president of the genocide survivors' association, Ibuka, Jean Pierre Dusingizemungu, said that the decision was an unfortunate one.

"It is unfortunate that France has failed to recognise these reforms when other European countries and the Arusha tribunal are willing to send some cases to Rwanda. This is a major blow to the survivors who want to see justice done," Dusingizemungu said.

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