30 November 2012

Rwanda: Genocide Case Opens in Sweden

The hearing of a Genocide case involving Stanislas Mbanenande, a Rwandan with Swedish citizenship, opened this week in Sweden.

Mbanenande, 54, is charged with genocide and crimes against international law and faces up to life in prison if convicted for the crimes he allegedly committed during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.

He allegedly took part in massacres between April 12 and June 30, 1994 in the western part of the country, formerly in Kibuye Prefecture.

"Since November 28, a big delegation from Sweden is in Rwanda to hear the first session of witnesses' accounts which is expected to end on December 20. The second session will begin next year on January 08 and end on March 14," the spokesperson of the Rwandan Prosecution Alain Mukuralinda said.

He added that about 35 people are expected to testify in Mbonenande's case.

The Swedish team that is in Rwanda is comprised of four judges, three prosecutors and thee defence lawyers, a member of the Swedish civil society and journalists.

The indictment describes Mbanenande as having taken an "informal role as a lower-level leader among young Hutus who sympathised with, or came to sympathise with, Hutu extremism."

It also states that his leadership status was borne out by the fact that he possessed an automatic firearm, which he is said to have fired into crowds.

Mbanenande allegedly murdered or recruited young men to take part in massacres.

Particularly, he allegedly led a militia that massacred people in Bisesero and Ruhiro in the Western Province where over 50,000 people were killed. He is also said to have personally taken part in murders.

He was ordered to stand trial in Sweden after Stockholm was unable to comply with a request to extradite him to Rwanda, where he has been handled a lifetime sentence in absentia, because he obtained Swedish citizenship in 2008.

He has denied all charges following his arrest in December last year under an international arrest warrant.

Mbanenande has been in Sweden since 2007, when he joined his family and obtained a residence permit on family reunification grounds.

The development follows the pending extradition of Genocide suspect Sylver Ahorugeze whom all courts of law in the Nordic country ruled that he be brought to Rwanda to face charges he stands accused of.

Ahorugeze subsequent appeal to the European Court of Human and People's Rights claiming he would not get fair trial in Rwanda were also rejected, with the court saying that Rwanda fulfils the minimum standards required under the international law to adjudicate a case freely and fairly.

He awaits a political decision to be sent to Rwanda.

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