Top French court blocks extradition of Rwandese suspects
Newscast Media PARIS—France’s highest court has ruled against the extradition of
three Rwandans wanted in Kigali for their alleged role in anti-Tutsi genocide in 1994.
The Cour de Cassation declared that the men could not be judged for a crime that
was legally defined after the massacres took place.
The court on Wednesday overturned a November appeals court ruling that Claude
Muhayimana and Innocent Musabyimana could be extradited and upheld a September
decision by a court in Douai, northern France, that Laurent Serubuga could not.
Genocide was made a punishable crime in Rwanda after laws were passed in 1996 and
Muhayimana, who obtained French citizenship in 2010, is accused of taking part in
the mass murder of Tutsis in the western town of Kibuye, while Musabyimana is
accused of genocide in the north-western province of Gisenyi.
Serubuga, who a deputy chief of staff of the Rwandan army at the time, was
detained in France last July because of an arrest warrant issued by a Rwandan court.
The Douai court rejected the extradition call on the grounds that the warrant was
issued 10 years after the alleged crimes.
France has been reluctant to extradite Rwandans and its relations with Kigali have
been tense since President Paul Kagame came to power 20 years ago.
But relations have improved recently and the current trial on genocide charges of
former army captain Pascal Simbikangwa is the first of its kind in France. Muhayimana
could be tried under the same laws and an investigation into his possible involvement
in crimes against humanity was opened last June.
The leader of the Rwandan genocide survivors’ association Ibuka, Jean-Pierre
Dusingizemungu, slammed Wednesday’s decision, saying Rwanda had a “proven”
system in place to try genocide suspects.
“France is not really making any effort,” he said. “Our view is that France is hesitating
because it is involved. Perhaps it wants to protect its old friends.”
Source: Radio France Internationale