London courts frees RwandansThijs Bouwknegt
Posted by sarkout on April 20 2009 16:26:23
British court has blocked the extradition of four men accused of involvement in the Rwandan genocide of 1994. The court ruled that the men could not be guaranteed a fair trial on return to Rwanda.

Britain's Crown Prosecution Services - acting on behalf of the Rwandan government - wanted Vincent Bajinya, Celestin Ugirashebuja, Emmanuel Nteziryayo and Charles Munyaneza returned to Rwanda to face trial for their alleged participation in the genocide. Rwanda had agreed to waive the death penalty if they had been found guilty.

But two judges of London's High Court said Wednesday the men faced the possibility of "a flagrant denial of justice" if they were returned to Rwanda to face trial and ordered that they be set free immediately.
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London courts frees RwandansThijs Bouwknegt

A British court has blocked the extradition of four men accused of involvement in the Rwandan genocide of 1994. The court ruled that the men could not be guaranteed a fair trial on return to Rwanda.

Britain's Crown Prosecution Services - acting on behalf of the Rwandan government - wanted Vincent Bajinya, Celestin Ugirashebuja, Emmanuel Nteziryayo and Charles Munyaneza returned to Rwanda to face trial for their alleged participation in the genocide. Rwanda had agreed to waive the death penalty if they had been found guilty.

But two judges of London's High Court said Wednesday the men faced the possibility of "a flagrant denial of justice" if they were returned to Rwanda to face trial and ordered that they be set free immediately.

The judges also said there was a risk of government interference with Rwanda's judiciary and that there was evidence that defence witnesses in Rwanda were afraid to give evidence in the men's favour.

The judges refused Rwanda's request to appeal the ruling to the House of Lords, effectively ending the extradition process, according to prosecutors.

Munyaneza, Ugirashebuja and Nteziryayo were mayors of local communes who allegedly organised killings in their areas, while Bajinya was alleged to have been a militia organiser in Kigali.

At an extradition hearing in 2007, a court heard allegations that Bajinya - who changed his name to Vincent Brown when he became a British citizen - had been part of the "inner circle" of then Rwandan president Juvenal Habyarimana.

Prosecutors told the court that Bajinya went on to become a leader in the Interahamwe militia which spearheaded the slaughter. Court papers alleged he ordered the militia to cut a suspected Tutsi "into pieces so that he would not recover".

The men have denied involvement in the genocide, in which an estimated 800,000 people were killed in the course of three months.

Anti-genocide campaigners condemned the court's decision, saying that it sent a message to the Rwandan people that the suspected killers of their families could "walk free with impunity".

Most high profile suspects in the genocide have been prosecuted by the UN's International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), based in Tanzania.

The ICTR says suspects referred to Rwanda may not receive a fair trial, a charge denied by Rwanda.

In February, Finland refused a request from Rwandan authorities for the extradition of a former Rwandan pastor also because of concerns he would not get a fair trial