28 November 2012

Rwanda: France and Rwanda Trade Accusations Over Extradition Request

Paris/Arusha — Rwandan Prosecutor-General Martin Ngoga today slammed France as the "only safe haven for mass murderers", after counsel for the prosecution at the Paris Appeals Court issued an unfavourable opinion on a Rwandan extradition request. The Court said Wednesday it would hand down a decision on the request for ex-minister Hyacinthe Rafiki Nsengiyumva on December 19.

Kigali wants the former Minister of Public Works extradited on charges of participating in the 1994 genocide. However, counsel for the prosecution at the Paris court Jean-Charles Lecompte told judges the Rwandan extradition request was "not clear" at all. He also said he was "surprised" that the extradition request had been signed by the same prosecutor who signed the indictment and the arrest warrant, namely Ngoga. And yet, he said, "in all the law faculties, we teach that an extradition request must be established by a government". Lecompte's opinion is likely to affect the decision of the Court.

"It is pathetic, this level of arrogance, but we have seen similar attitudes before," said Ngoga in his reaction. He nevertheless urged France to move forward. "In France we are dealing with a system that has been unable to break ranks with the past," he told Hirondelle. "We need objectivity as a way forward irrespective of a questionable past."

Kigali accuses Paris of having supported the Rwandan regime under which the 1994 genocide was perpetrated.

The case started on August 9, 2011 when Nsengiyumva was detained for questioning in the Paris suburb of Créteil. A month later, just before the visit of Rwandan President Paul Kagame to Paris, he was remanded in custody. But the Rwandan extradition request was deemed incomplete and the indictment produced by Kigali was signed after the arrest. The Rwandan was released at the end of September and the extradition process began again.

The Paris court then lost his file at the end of the year, finding it again only three months later. Presiding judge Edith Boizette explained that "this court is hamstrung by lack of resources".

On July 4, she asked Rwanda for supplementary information for the third time. Kigali meanwhile issued a new indictment and a new arrest warrant to conform with new legislation. But the Paris Court says some elements are still missing.

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