16 February 2017

Rwanda: Swedish Appeals Court Upholds Berinkindi Life Jail Term

The umbrella body for Genocide survivors' associations, Ibuka has welcomed Wednesday's decision by Swedish Court of Appeal upholding life imprisonment for Claver Berinkindi, over Genocide.

Earlier last year in May, the Stockholm District Court in Sweden handed Berinkindi life jail term after being found guilty of masterminding the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.

The court ruled that Berinkindi as a member of Interahamwe militia, organised and supervised attacks that claimed thousands of Tutsis.

Then very influential businessman, Berinkindi, mainly was accused of organising and supervising attacks in Nkuri and Nyamiyaga communes in former Butare Prefecture, currently in Southern Province.

He denied the accusations and appealed the verdict.

But the Swedish Court of Appeal yesterday maintained the district court's decision, according to media reports.

The Court of Appeal ruled that Berinkindi acted as an informal commander during the genocide, and that he, along with others, took part in assassination, attempted murder and the kidnapping of a very large number of Tutsis, according to Jeune Afrique.

The 61-year old had been naturalised Swedish in 2012, ten years after his arrival in the country.

Ibuka reacts

Jean Pierre Dusingizemungu, Ibuka president told The New Times that the court's decision affirms that some countries want justice.

"It sends a clear and strong message to other nations that justice should prevail and that genocide fugitives should be tried and sentenced whenever they are in the world," said Dusingizemungu.

"It is a good message to the international community that no genocide fugitive should roam freely. Some countries are still reluctant to arrest and try genocide suspects but they should follow suit," he added.

He however observed that there is still a long way to go when it comes to the international community to try or extradite genocide fugitives.

"The sentence Berinkindi was given is the heaviest the country has and our wish is that other countries should emulate the Swedish government," Dusingizemungu noted.

The Swedish Court also had awarded reparations for 15 Genocide victims ranging from Rwf3 million to Rwf10 million.

According to the Swedish law, in case the convict is indigent and cannot pay the reparations awarded by court, the money is drawn by government from a special fund for unclaimed assets.

Dusingizemungu said while in previous cases of reparations were ignored by both the now defunct International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) and other countries that tried genocide cases, it remains the victim's rights to get reparations.

The Gacaca courts had earlier tried Berinkindi in absentia and handed him 30 years in jail. editorial@newtimes.co.rw

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