18 August 2017

Rwanda: Germany Extradites Genocide Fugitive Today

Photo: New Times
Jean Twagiramungu on arrival at Kigali International Airport.

German authorities will today extradite to Rwanda a man suspected to have helped mastermind the Genocide against the Tutsi in the former Gikongoro Prefecture, now part of the Southern Province.

Jean Twagiramungu was arrested two years ago and has been battling extradition in different courts of the European country until he exhausted all legal means.

He was arrested from the German city of Frankfurt, according to prosecution.

Speaking exclusively to The New Times Thursday evening, Prosecutor General Jean Bosco Mutangana confirmed the development, saying that the suspect was expected in the country late Friday.

"We are ready to process him through courts of law as we have done with other suspects. This is a very positive development in efforts to book those responsible for the Genocide. The implication is that Germany cannot be considered safe haven for these fugitives any more," Mutangana said by phone.

Twagiramungu, survivors say, used his influence as a teacher to order Interahamwe militia to take arms and kill their neighbours.

"He always brandished traditional arms including machetes everywhere he went. He was seen with such at various roadblocks where several Tutsi were killed," a survivor from the former Gikongoro prefecture said.

This is the first Genocide fugitive to be extradited from Germany, but in 2014 a court there handed a 14-year jail sentence to Onesphore Rwabukombe, a former district mayor, after he was convicted of a role in the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.

Also, Germany has previously tried and convicted two leaders of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), an outfit largely made up of Genocide perpetrators that is based in Democratic Republic of Congo.

The two are Ignace Murwanashyaka, the militia group's founding president and his deputy, Straton Musoni, who were convicted for war crimes and sentenced to 13 and eight years, respectively.

According to Mutangana, the extradition is a "very crucial step towards ensuring justice" adding that this will embolden them to continue hunting for the fugitives wherever they are.

"I believe there are countries that could borrow a leaf from Germany. Of course we have previously had other extraditions from Western countries like Denmark, Norway, The Netherlands, Canada and the US, among others," he said.

Besides these countries, global jurisdictions like the now dissolved International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda transferred to Rwanda suspects of the Genocide against the Tutsi.

Despite these efforts, however, some countries remain reluctant to send fugitives to Rwanda, or even try them in their courts of law.

Most recently, a court in the United Kingdom, a few weeks ago, turned down the request by Rwanda to extradite five men who for over a decade have fought extradition efforts despite the glaring evidence pinning them.

These men, the Government and Genocide survivors contend, should be at least tried in the UK if the latter cannot extradite them to Rwanda.

In refusing to extradite, suspects, the UK courts have maintained that there were still no guarantees that the suspects would get fair trial.

This is despite a landmark ruling by both the ICTR and the European Court of Human and People's Rights, which in 2011 ruled, after extensive investigations that the Rwandan judicial system had the capacity to try any suspect in accordance with international standards.

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