24 April 2019

Rwanda: Prosecution - We Are Ready to Work With UK to Bring Genocide Fugitives to Book

Prosecutor General Jean Bosco Mutangana on Tuesday told The New Times that his office is ready to support efforts by UK authorities to bring to justice five Rwandan men suspected of participating in the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda.

Nearly 11 years on, a decision is still pending on five extradition cases of Genocide suspects living in the UK. The suspects are Dr Vincent Bajinya, Célestin Ugirashebuja, Charles Munyaneza, Emmanuel Nteziryayo and Célestin Mutabaruka.

The Government of Rwanda requested the UK to bring the men to court if they can't extradite them to Rwanda.

Courts in the UK have on several occasions ruled against their extradition to Rwanda. All five men deny the charges.

The Genocide Convention of 1948 requires countries to extradite or try cases of this nature.

Mutangana said: "This is a matter before UK law enforcement now. I am ready to support their efforts to bring to justice the five suspects and others that may be identified on their territory.

"Rwandan Prosecution Authority is willing and ready to cooperate with UK authorities on the choices they make going forward. I think the UK has been aware of this case for over 10 years since extradition proceedings have been going on at Westminster Magistrates Court, as well as the High Court."

On April 9, Andrew Mitchell, MP for Sutton Coldfield, asked the Government to make a statement to the House of Commons on the handling of the cases of the five alleged perpetrators of the Genocide who reside in the United Kingdom.

Mass killers enjoying UK benefits

Previously, the High Court in the UK ruled that there was a high risk the suspects would not receive fair trial if extradited.

But following the referral of documents from Rwanda to the Metropolitan Police Service, in January 2018, the investigation was reopened.

Mitchell, who was in Kigali during the 25th anniversary of the commemoration of the Genocide, told the UK Parliament that while Britain makes no move to try or extradite the five genocidaires, "the British taxpayer has forked out already more than three million Pounds in legal costs for these five (men) living on benefits including on housing benefit."

"In spite of all the evidence available here already in the United Kingdom, the Metropolitan Police have indicated it could take a further ten years to process," Mitchell said.

"The souls of those murdered in the Genocide cry out for justice but from Britain justice has at the least been delayed, and at worst denied."

Mitchell noted that the Nuremberg trials - a series of military tribunals held by the allied forces under international law and the laws of war after World War II - commenced a mere seven months after WWII and were concluded within 10 months.

For the reputation of British justice, he said, "we should surely expect these five alleged genocidaires to be on trial" by the end of this year.

Ben Wallace, the UK Home Office Minister, disagreed with Mitchell when the latter stated that the UK was shielding the suspects.

The minister noted that, among others, he could not say much about the case as there is an ongoing police investigation.

But others in the House, including Nick Thomas-Symonds, Shadow Home Office Minister, differed.

A crime against humanity is a crime against "us all", he said, and all efforts must be made to ensure justice is done.

Thomas-Symonds pressed Wallace to assure the House that all possible resources will be put at the disposal of the investigation and the investigation is carried out carefully and quickly.

David Davis, a Conservative MP, said: "Other countries with very strong records of protecting asylum and protecting the rights of individuals under criminal investigation such as Canada, Norway, Denmark, Sweden and the Netherlands, have all seen it fit to extradite suspects in their countries back to Rwanda. Why are we not?"

To this, the UK Home Office Minister reiterated his government's stand that they have to abide by court rulings.

About the fugitives

Vincent Bajinya, who in 1994 headed Rwanda's population service, is accused of coordinating killings in the capital of Kigali.

Prior to his arrest, the suspect, who had changed his name to Vincent Brown as a way to disguise himself, sought asylum in the United Kingdom where he worked for several years as a doctor for Praxis, a mutual help organisation for refugees based in London.

He was later suspended from his job.

Mutabaruka, a 60-year-old pastor, is equally accused of leading Interahamwe militia that carried out several vicious attacks on Tutsi.

Specifically, he is accused of leading an attack on a church in April 1994 in which 20,000 Tutsi refugees were killed.

He was arrested previously in 2013 in the UK town of Ashford in the county of Kent where he and his wife worked as pastors at Fountain Pentecostal Church in Ashford.

The other accused, Munyaneza and Nteziryayo, are former mayors of former Mudasomwa and Kinyamakara districts in the present-day Southern Province and are accused of orchestrating mass killings in the southern parts of the country that left hundreds of thousands dead.

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