4 September 2012

Rwanda: Norway to try Genocide Suspect

Photo: United Nations
Rwandan children, refugees of the genocide (file photo).

Norway has set September 25 as the beginning of a trial involving Genocide suspect Sadi Bugingo who was arrested in Oslo last year, according to information from the Nordic country.

Bugingo allegedly killed people at the Economat Général of Kibungo Diocese and at Kibungo Baptist Church

Bugingo is alleged to have supervised killings, coordinated attacks and distributed food rations to Interahamwe militia, during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.

The reports indicate that Bugingo's case is scheduled to last about three months ending on December 21.

He will be the first person to be tried for the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi under Norwegian law.

According Norwegian authorities, Bugingo's trial will be conducted in Courtroom 250 at Oslo Central Court, the same courtroom where mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik was tried.

Bugingo will be the second person to stand trial in the 250 courtroom, after Breivik, who last year killed 69 of his compatriots, mostly youth, and was last month sentenced to 21 years in prison.

This is according to the Norwegian law, is the maximum sentence that can be meted out on any convicted criminal.

Meanwhile, prior to the confirmation of Bugingo's trial dates, Norway had sent several delegations of investigators to Rwanda. He is accused of genocide, complicity in genocide, conspiracy to commit genocide and crimes against humanity.

Other crimes on his charge sheet include murder, extermination and the formation, membership, leadership, and participation in an association of a criminal gang, whose purpose and existence was to do harm to people or their property.

In an earlier interview with The New Times following Bugingo's arrest, Jacqueline Mudahogora, a survivor of the Kibungo killings, who now lives in Kabuga, welcomed the news.

"It is good news that the likely killers of my parents, brothers and family friends, are arrested. I only hope that he gets the most befitting punishment, but I don't know which form of punishment; only God knows," she said.

Mudahogora, a mother of three, said she does not know Bugingo, in person, but the period of suffering and fear, in 1994, is a horror that never fades away.

Bugingo allegedly killed people at the Economat Général of Kibungo Diocese and at Kibungo Baptist Church, now in Ngoma district, Eastern Province.

He is also accused of participating in the murders of Tutsi in various areas including Birenga, Zaza, and Nyakarambi.

Bugingo is the second Genocide fugitive arrested in Norway, after Charles Bandora.

Bandora was arrested last year as he tried to enter Oslo Airport on false papers, posing as Frank Kamwana, a Malian national.

Norwegian courts and the European Court of Human and People's Rights have all ruled in favour of sending Bandora to Rwanda, what remains is Norway's Ministry of Justice to enforce the decisions.

Despite the fact that Norway will be trying a suspected genocidaire in substance, it will not be the first Nordic country to try a suspect, as Finnish courts already tried and convicted Francois Bazaramba.

Bazaramba, a former clergyman in the Southern Province, has since lost his appeal which he logged against a sentence of life imprisonment.

Another significant trial of a Genocide fugitive in that part of the world is Sylveire Ahorugeze, who turned to the European Court of Human and Peoples' Rights after all Swedish courts ordered him extradited to Rwanda.

The European court has also dismissed the suspect's pleadings that he would not be fairly tried in Rwanda, but he petitioned the appellate chamber of the court, which has not yet pronounced itself on the matter.

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