The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) on Tuesday handed over to Rwanda the case file of Phénéas Munyarugarama, a former officer in the genocidal army - the eighth and last fugitive case file to be transferred to Kigali by the UN tribunal.
Munyarugarama held the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in the ex-FAR and was the highest ranking military officer at Gako military camp between early 1993 and May 14, 1994.
His transfer marks the last of all the eight cases in the tribunal's custody as it closes in to the end of its mandate.
Speaking at the handover ceremony, the ICTR Chief Prosecutor Hassan Bubacar Jallow said Munyarugarama is charged with genocide, direct and public incitement, extermination, murder, persecution and rape for acts committed both by him, by the soldiers and army serving under his command and by Interahamwe to whom he distributed fire arms from the camp armoury.
The alleged killings and rapes took place between May 8 and May 20 in 1994 at Kanzenze, Nyamata, Ntarama and Mwendo in the Bugesera region.
"He was indicted by the tribunal and an arrest warrant was issued in March 2002; an amended indictment was confirmed in June 2012 and a new arrest warrant was issued directing all UN Member States to arrest the fugitive and transfer him to Rwanda for trial," Jallow said at the event.
The ICTR referral chamber granted the Prosecutor's request to transfer Munyarugarama's case to Rwanda for trial in June this year. The same decision was upheld by the Appeals Chamber of the tribunal last month.
"The Mechanism of the International Criminal Tribunals enjoins the Office of the Prosecutor to render assistance in tracking of fugitives in the cases transferred to national jurisdictions for trial, so the Office of the Prosecutor will continue working with Rwanda in tracking Munyarugarama," Jallow said of the new temporary mechanism that will soon take over ICTR business.
UN War Crimes Ambassador, Stephen Rapp, recently said that the US Rewards of Justice programme continues to apply to cases of fugitives that have been referred to Rwanda for trial by the ICTR.
Rwanda's Prosecutor General, Martin Ngoga, who received Munyarugara's file, welcomed the tribunal's pledge to help track down ICTR-indicted fugitives, adding that Rwanda will accord the suspects fair trial when they are arrested.
"The referral of cases to Rwanda is a result of enormous effort by Rwanda in building a standard justice system. It is a major boost for Rwanda and opens up possibilities for other countries to cooperate with Rwanda in tracking and bringing Genocide suspects to justice," said Ngoga.
It is alleged that Munyarugarama was directly involved in the planning and execution of the systematic attacks directed against the Tutsi civilian population at various sites, including at Kanzenze communal office, Nyamata Sector, Ntarama Catholic Church, Cyugaro Primary School and the Ntarama swamps during the time of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
Former Pentecostal pastor Jean Uwinkindi was the first ICTR suspect to be transferred to Rwanda, while Fulgence Kayishema, a former judicial police officer, is still held at the Arusha-based UN court's detention facility where he is awaiting transfer to Kigali.
Also transferred are case files for fugitives Bernard Munyagishari, Charles Sikuwabo, Ladislas Ntaganzwa, Ryandikayo, and Aloys Ndimbati.