Hassan Bubakar Jallow, the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), on Tuesday handed over the file of Pheneas Munyarugarama, a genocide fugitive, to the National Public Prosecution Authority (NPPA) for trial in domestic courts.
According to the NPPA, nine files have so far been transferred by the ICTR to Rwanda as part of agreements between two sides to transfer some of the genocide cases to Rwanda for trial. Jallow said that the agreement was reached as a result of efforts made by Rwanda in law reform and capacity building to make sure that the country has capacity to handle the cases in accordance with the international standards.
On the side of Rwanda's prosecution, the handover is significant in that it increases the confidence in the justice system. "It's an endorsement that Rwanda's judiciary now has the capacity to handle cases according to international standards," said prosecutor general Martin Ngoga.
He also noted that the transfer agreement has been the result of a long process to convince the international community that Rwanda can adequately handle genocide cases. He pointed out that the handover should serve as a reassurance to some members of the international community who are still doubtful.
Lt Col Pheneas Munyarugarama, between May 1993 and May 1994 commander of Camp Gako in the then Rural Kigali prefecture, now in Bugesera district, is charged with genocide against Tutsi in 1994, direct and public incitement, extermination, murder, persecution and rape for acts committed both by himself, soldiers and Interahamwe to whom he distributed firearms from the camp armory.
He was indicted by the tribunal and an arrest warrant issued in March 2002; an amended indictment was confirmed in June 2012 and a new warrant of arrest issued, directing all UN member states to arrest the fugitive and transfer him to Rwanda for trial.
The ICTR has already sent other cases to Rwanda including the ones of Pastor Jean Uwinkindi, whose case is pending before Rwandan judiciary, and Fulgence Kayishema, Charles Sikubwabo, Charles Ryandikayo and Aloys Ndimbati, all fugitives who were from the former Kibuye prefecture.