The government of Malawi has said that Rwandese Prosecution Agencies have confirmed their participation and attendance at the extradition hearing of Rwandan fugitive and genocide convict Vincent Murekezi which is making a comeback in Malawian court after it was initially dismissed.
The case is making a comeback in the Malawian courts as Rwanda and the rest of the world commemorates the 1994 genocide against Tutsi and following the signing of an Extradition Treaty between Malawi and Rwanda on February 25, 2017.
Human Rights Consultative Committee Robert Mkwezalamba earlier last month wondered why the Minister of Home Affairs, who under the laws of Malawi, has the legal obligation to simply sign for his extradition has not yet done so.
A group calling themselves Concerned Citizens also petitioned the Minister to simply exercise her power as given by the law to have Murekezi extradited, a development which has met deaf ears from the minister responsible.
The Rwandan fugitive, Murekezi is wanted for genocide and crimes against humanity for the role he played in the 1994 genocide against Tutsi which saw more than one million Tutsis murdered.
Senior Chief State Advocate Steven Kayuni disclosed in an interview that officials from Rwandan National Prosecution Authority have confirmed their participation and attendance at the hearing.
“The court has set April 10, 2017 as the date when it will start hearing the case. If you remember the court ruling was that officials from Rwanda should come and attend the hearing. So after making the fresh application, we notified our friends in Rwanda,” said Kayuni.
He said the Rwandese officials are finalizing paperwork and travel arrangements before flying into the country to attend the extradition case.
The Lilongwe Principal Resident Magistrate Court had initially dismissed the case because of irregularities in the manner in which the State presented the case in court.
However, Principal Resident Magistrate Patrick Chirwa gave the State liberty to re-apply for his extradition after regularizing the process.
“They Rwandan prosecution officials needed enough time to prepare; hence, we requested for a shift in dates,” explained Kayuni.
But he could not commit himself on the actual date the prosecution officials from Rwanda would be jetting in.
The lead defense lawyer for Murekezi, Wapona Kita said he was not aware of the development.
However, lawyer Gift Kayuni told the media outside the court in one of the appearances that they would be glad to have the Rwandan prosecution witnesses physically present in the court.
He emphasized that this is a requirement of the law.
In reaction, the Rwandan National Prosecutor Faustin Nkusi said they were ‘ready to explain any concern they have, whether concerning our laws in Rwanda, fair trial issues and other concerns.’
Nkusi said the National Public Prosecution Authority of Rwanda is ready to appear in court and defend its extradition request as friends of court “amicus curiae”.
Most commentators and human rights defenders are requesting the government of Malawi to hasten the extradition of Murekezi as this a threat to national security.
Human Rights Consultative Committee Chairperson Robert Mkwezalamba told the media that he doesn’t see why the government is dragging its feet on extraditing Murekezi when the laws of Malawi are clear on giving the legal obligation to the Minister of Home Affairs to have culprits like Murekezi extradited.
- Murekezi being led to a waiting police van. / Watipaso Mzungu