France to extradite Rwanda genocide suspect
A French court has agreed for the first time to extradite a suspect to Rwanda to answer genocide charges, it was announced on Friday. The court ruling in Rouen came after an arrest warrant was issued for Claude Muhayimana.
AFP - For the first time a French court has agreed that a suspect should be extradited to Rwanda to face charges of genocide in the central African state, officials said Friday.
The court ruling in Rouen followed an international arrest warrant issued in December for Claude Muhayimana, a French-Rwandan dual national who is accused of taking part in genocide and crimes against humanity.
The extradition can only go ahead if the French government gives its accord, and France has never allowed French nationals to be extradited.
France has previously extradited Rwandan citizens to Tanzania to face trial at the International Criminal Tribunal (ICTR) for Rwanda but has never sent anyone to Rwanda itself for trial over the 1994 genocide.
Western countries and the ICTR had long hesitated to transfer indicted genocide suspects living abroad or detainees to Rwanda's national jurisdiction, fearing they would be denied a fair trial.
Kigali abolished the death penalty in 2007 and has committed to ensuring that indictees sent back home for trial will be treated according to international standards.
Muhayimana, a 51-year-old municipal employee in Rouen, denies any role in the genocide in which 800,000 people, mainly Tutsis, died, and is planning to appeal the decision to extradite him, said his lawyer Geraldine Boitieux.
She said her client would be happy to be judged by a French court or by the ICTR but not by a Rwandan tribunal.
"My client believes he has no guarantee that he will be judged by an impartial court given the current situation there," she said.
The Rwandan ambassador in Paris, Jacques Kabale, said in a statement he was "satisfied" with the Rouen court's ruling and said it set a precedent. Kabale insisted Muhayimana would be given a fair trial in his native land.