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Rwanda slams France court decision

27 February 2014, 19:25

Paris - Rwanda on Thursday condemned a decision by France's top court to block the extradition of three genocide suspects and expressed hope they would be tried on French soil.

The French Court of Cassation on Wednesday overturned a November appeals court ruling approving the extradition of Claude Muhayimana and Innocent Musabyimana.

It also upheld a September decision by another court rejecting the extradition of Laurent Serubuga, a former colonel, also wanted by Kigali over the 1994 massacres that claimed some 800 000 victims, most of them from the minority Tutsi ethnic group.

In a statement Rwanda's ambassador in Paris said the rulings "once more provide impunity for those people living on French soil who are accused of participating in the genocide against Tutsis in 1994".

He urged the French authorities to ensure the three men are put on trial in France.

"It is difficult to imagine France, the birthplace of human rights, becoming a haven of peace and impunity for so many of those who took part in the genocide of Tutsis."

Muhayimana, a French citizen since 2010, is accused of taking part in a massacre of ethnic Tutsis in the western town of Kibuye and Musabyimana faces similar accusations over killings in the northwestern province of Gisenyi.

Punishable crime

The Court of Cassation said the two men could not be extradited for trial for a crime which was not legally defined in Rwanda at the time the acts were committed.

Genocide was only made a punishable crime in Rwanda in 1996, with further legislation on the issue being adopted in 2004.

Serubuga, a deputy chief of staff of the Rwandan army at the time of the genocide, was detained in France in July last year following an international arrest warrant issued by a Rwandan court.

In September, a court in the northern French town of Douai ruled against extradition on the grounds that the warrant was issued more than 10 years after the alleged crimes.

Under French law, there is no statute of limitations on prosecutions for genocide, crimes against humanity or war crimes, regardless of where in the world they were committed.

Former Rwandan army captain Pascal Simbikangwa is currently on trial in Paris for complicity in the Rwandan genocide in the first case of its kind to come to court.

Muhayimana could be next. A judicial investigation was opened against him in a Paris court in June last year for crimes against humanity.



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