Rwanda: Genocide Fugitive Venant Rutunga Extradited From the Netherlands

The Dutch government has extradited Venant Rutunga, the former regional director of ISAR Rubona, an agricultural research institute located in the southern district of Huye, formerly known as Butare Prefecture.

The 72-year old was received by officials from the National Public Prosecution Authority (NPPA) at Kigali International Airport on Monday July 26 at around 7:30pm.

He had lived in the European country for over a decade according to available information.

"We commend the Dutch judicial authorities for the extradition of genocide suspects, continued cooperation in matters of mutual legal assistance and contribution to the global effort to fight impunity," reads part of a statement from NPPA which was signed by Faustin Nkusi, the spokesperson.

The Dutch police arrested Rutunga in March 2019 on an indictment issued by the NPPA's Genocide Fugitives Tracking Unit.

Reacting to the development, Olivier Nduhungirehe, Rwanda's ambassador to The Netherlands said that Rutunga was extradited after exhausting all his legal avenues to block the process.

"Arrested in March 2019 in the Netherlands, his extradition was confirmed by the Minister of Justice and Security in April 2020. In Dec 2020 and May 2021, Dutch courts rejected his appeals," Nduhungirehe tweeted.

According to survivor accounts, at the start of the Genocide against the Tutsi, more than 1,000 Tutsi sought refuge at ISAR Rubona.

Instead of offering them protection, the suspect is said to have alerted and brought in soldiers and interahamwe militia at the institute who then killed them instantly.

Rutunga, alongside Charles Ndereyehe Ntahontuye, the former ISAR head, were also at the forefront of the killings that took place in Rubona village, current Ruhashya sector in Huye district.

Survivors accuse the two of having used their authority and influence as well as ISAR resources to communicate with other institutions, including the Gendarmerie of Butare where Tutsis were hiding.

Particularly Rutunga is charged with three crimes: his role in the genocide, complicity in killing and crimes against humanity.

Rutunga becomes the third person to be extradited from The Netherlands.

The country has previously extradited Jean Baptiste Mugimba and Jean Claude Iyamuremye who were both extradited in November 2016.

Mugimba's trial is still ongoing while Iyamuremye has been sentenced to 25 years.

Other genocide suspects have been domestically tried by Dutch authorities.

Those include Joseph Mpambara who was convicted for a life sentence in 2011 and Yvonne Basebya who was convicted of the crime of incitement to commit genocide for six years and eight months.

Sources indicate that The Netherlands received 18 indictments from Rwanda but twelve are yet to be answered to.

Some of the fugitives who are suspected to be in The Netherlands include Ndereyehe.

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