15 June 2012

Rwanda: European Court Upholds Ahorugeze Extradition

The Grand Chamber of European Court of Human Rights has rejected an appeal by Genocide suspect, Sylvere Ahorugeze, who was challenging a Swedish court's decision to extradite him to Rwanda.

Alleged to have played a key role in the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi that left over a million people dead, Ahorugeze was arrested in 2008 in Sweden as he tried to renew his family's passports at the Rwandan embassy.

He is particularly suspected of being responsible for the murders of about 30 families.

Reacting to the latest development, Prosecutor General, Martin Ngoga said: "We are in the process of checking the final details and the effect the decision can have on the country hosting the fugitive and which did not actually initiate the extradition process".

Ahorugeze's extradition was initiated by Sweden but after being held in custody for three years, the Supreme Court ruled that there was no reason to detain him while the decision from Europe was taking time. Following his release, he returned to Denmark, where he now resides.

However, in October last year, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that it was in order for Sweden to authorise his deportation. The decision was challenged at the highest authority, the Grand Chamber, which has decided not to review the case.

"That aside, the fact is that we have the decision of the highest court in Europe and Denmark as a country within its jurisdiction is expected to act responsibly. This is going to provide a good test and challenge on how much respect these countries have on their own courts and on the same measure, whether they actually care about the Genocide that happened in our country," said Ngoga.

However, since Ahorugeze resides in Denmark, the Rwandan authorities will have to turn to the Danish - and not the Swedish - judicial system if they want Ahorugeze extradited. According to Western media reports, the Danes have so far been unwilling to have Ahorugeze extradited to Rwanda.

In his view, Ngoga observed that, "As a matter of fact, if it was not for the double standards and wrong choice of priorities on Rwanda issues, this is the right situation for organisations like Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International to join hands and call upon countries like Switzerland and Denmark to stop harbouring high level fugitives.

"Unfortunately, they are nowhere to be seen in such cases. They only surface when there was a move to block extraditions of these fugitives to Rwanda."

Ahorugeze is also accused of having participated in the killing of hundreds of Tutsis, especially in Gikondo, a Kigali City suburb.

Born in 1956, Ahorugeze served as Director of the Rwandan Civil Aviation Authority and Kigali International Airport in 1994.

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