20 November 2012

Rwanda: Danish Court Upholds Extradition of Genocide Fugitive

Photo: United Nations
Rwandan children, refugees of the 1994 genocide (file photo).

A Danish district court on Monday confirmed a decision by the country's justice ministry to extradite a Rwandan man to face charges of Genocide against the Tutsi.

50-year-old Emmanuel Mbarushimana, is accused of killing scores of Tutsis in April and May of 1994 at road blocks, and spearheading the massacre of other Tutsis at Kabuye Hill in April 1994.

The victims had been advised to gather at the hill for safety but were instead attacked.

The former inspector of schools in Butare Prefecture, now Huye District, has been living in the Scandinavian country since 2001.

Mbarushimana has been in Danish police custody since his arrest at his home in Zealand region in December 2010.

Reports from Denmark indicate that the court that upheld the decision also said it was not proven he "would be subjected to torture or other inhumane treatment", nor that "he because of his ethnicity and political viewpoints risks persecution in his home country".

The man, who pleaded not guilty on Monday, appealed the extradition to a higher court, his lawyer Bjoern Elmquist told the press.

Efforts to get a comment from the Head of Genocide Fugitive Tracking Unit (GFTU) John Bosco Siboyintore were fruitless but in a recent interview with The New Times, he said that Rwanda has been waiting for the Danish authorities' decision and now "we are going to follow it up and find out when he will be extradited."

In 2008, Rwandan authorities requested Copenhagen to either extradite the man or prosecute him in Denmark.

Danish authorities had initially decided to prosecute him, but discovered they could not press charges for genocide under Danish law. Instead they indicted him for murder.

The Danish law has since changed to allow acts of genocide committed abroad to be prosecuted in the Scandinavian country, but the law cannot be applied retroactively, meaning that the suspect would not be subjected to it.

In February 2012, Rwandan authorities demanded the man's extradition.

It is understood that the murder charges he stands accused in the Danish High Court would be put on hold until the appeal on the extradition order is heard.

The extradition appeal will be heard in February and March 2013, while the Danish murder case has been postponed until June 2013, though that case depends on the outcome of the extradition appeal.

Since the establishment of GFTU in 2007, the office has issued indictments against 1,092 fugitives living in various parts of the world, and some resulted into arrests, especially in European countries.

Of these, 132 indictments and arrest warrants have been issued in 23 countries and seven Genocide fugitives have been brought to Rwanda to face justice in the last 18 years.

In Africa, many Genocide fugitives live in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Congo Brazaville, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Mozambique, Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda.

In Europe, a big number are in France, Belgium, and the Netherlands.

Other European countries where fugitives have been identified are the United Kingdom, Norway, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Switzerland, Italy, and Finland.

There are also some in New Zealand, Canada and the U.S.

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