13 April 2014

Rwanda: Weekly Summary - Rwanda and the World Commemorates 1994 Genocide

Arusha — The past week was marked by commemorations in Kigali and elsewhere of the genocide perpetrated against Tutsis in Rwanda 20 years ago. Meanwhile, the International Criminal Court (ICC) officially ended the presentation of prosecution evidence in the trial of former Congolese Vice-President Jean-Pierre Bemba.

COMMEMORATION OF THE RWANDAN GENOCIDE:

Rwandan head of state Paul Kagame on Monday presided over ceremonies in Kigali to commemorate the 1994 genocide perpetrated against Tutsis. The previous day, in an interview with the Jeune Afrique weekly, he made new accusations against France, saying French soldiers had participated directly in the genocide. Paris immediately cancelled the visit of its Justice Minister, Christiane Taubira, who was scheduled to go to Kigali for the commemorations.

In his speech on Monday, Kagame said no country, however powerful, could change "the facts". Commemorations also took place elsewhere, notably in Arusha, Tanzania, seat of the UN's International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) and the East African Community (EAC). In a ceremony on Friday Rwandan EAC Secretary General Richard Sezibera said the genocide had been meticulously prepared for decades through the dehumanization and marginalization of Tutsis.

FRENCH COURT REJECTS RWANDAN EXTRADITION REQUEST:

Just as genocide commemorations were under way, a French court on Thursday rejected a Rwandan extradition request for genocide suspect Pierre Tegera, arguing the principle of non-retro-activity of criminal laws. The court in Aix-en-Provence, southern France, rejected the Rwandan request citing recent jurisprudence from the Court of Cassation.

REARREST OF A GENOCIDE SUSPECT IN FRANCE:

Also on Thursday, French police re-arrested in Rouen Claude Muhayimana, who is suspected of having played a role in the 1994 genocide in Rwanda.

CLOSURE OF PROSECUTION EVIDENCE HEARINGS IN BEMBA TRIAL:

The International Criminal Court (ICC) on Monday declared the presentation of prosecution evidence in the trial of former Congolese Vice-President Jean-Pierre Bemba officially closed. Bemba is on trial for crimes against humanity and war crimes committed in the Central African Republic in 2002 and 2003. According to the records of the Chamber, the prosecution evidence consists of 77 witness testimonies and 77 pieces of documentary evidence.

LUBANGA APPEALS HEARINGS POSTPONED:

The ICC on Friday postponed appeals hearings indefinitely in the trial of former Congolese militia leader Thomas Lubanga, who was sentenced to 14 years in jail by the lower court. These hearings had initially been scheduled for April 14 and 15.

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