CNLG commends Belgian courts’ decision to try three Rwandans prosecuted for genocide crimes

On 27 September 2017 at 04:11

On 19 September 2017, the Court of First Instance of Brussels in Belgium decided to try three Rwandans prosecuted for genocide in a case which involves four accused: Mathias Bushishi, Captain Ildephonse Nizeyimana, Colonel Jean-Marie Vianney Ndahimana and ThaddéeKwitonda.

The decision follows a request from the Belgian Prosecutor’s Office for a procedural settlement following an investigation by the Belgian investigating judge.

The CNLG congratulates the Belgian justice for its role in the fight against impunity and calls on other countries to try genocide suspects or to extradite them to Rwanda in accordance with resolution 2150 (2014) of the UN Security Council.

The resolution says “it is notoriously known that between 6th April and 17th July 1994 a genocide was committed in Rwanda against the Tutsi ethnic group; Emphasizes the importance of drawing lessons from the 1994 genocide against Tutsi in Rwanda; Condemns unreservedly any denial of this genocide, and calls upon States to investigate the facts, to arrest, prosecute or extradite, in pursuance of their international obligations in this matter, all other fugitives accused of genocide who reside on their territories, including the leaders of the FDLR militia”.

BUSHISHI Mathias, 77, a former state prosecutor in Butare prefecture, is accused of genocide and war crimes, including participation in a restricted security council on 31 May 1994 in the MRND palace in Butare. The council was aimed to prepare the genocide in Butare and to elaborate lists of Tutsi to be killed.

Mathias Bushishi had a coordination role in the genocide in Butare. He was involved in killings at the Huye Stadium, at the logistics of the Catholic Diocese of Butare, and in three other villages, including Kabakobwa. For instance, on 25 April 1994, cars with loudspeakers crossed the roads of Butare, announcing that the Red Cross had moved to the Huye stadium to provide food and hideout for the population. Thousands of Tutsi went there. It was a trap. The refugees were massacred by the militia and the military.
Wanted by Interpol since 2002, BUSHISHI Mathias was arrested on 18 April 2011 following an arrest warrant issued by a Belgian judge. He was detained in Belgium until 17 February 2012 when he was released on bail.

Every individual’s case

Ildephonse NIZEYIMANA, a former captain of the Rwandan armed forces, the public prosecutor in Brussels requested the Chamber to take note of his conviction by the ICTR and to declare the case closed on the basis of the non bis in idem principle. The ICTR sentenced Nizeyimana on 29 September 2014 to 35 years imprisonment after being found guilty of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes for numerous murders in and around Butare. At first instance, on 19 June, 2012, he had been sentenced to life imprisonment.

NDAHIMANA Jean-Marie-Vianney, a former colonel of the Rwandan Armed Forces, also known as Rumende, is one of the military officers serving in the Kigali military camp where ten Belgian soldiers from the UN Assistance Mission (UNAMIR) were killed on 7 April 1994. Ndahimana is accused of having played a leading role in the genocide in Kigali and in Kibuye, his native prefecture. He is also suspected of having ordered the extermination of more than 5,000 Tutsi in the former commune of Bwakira (Kibuye). He was arrested at the end of March 2011 in Belgium where he had fled after the genocide. He was released on bail in early 2012.

At the beginning of the genocide, Ndahimana was a member of the “Comité de Crise” which met at the military camp in Kigali on the night of 6-7 April 1994 under the presidency of Colonel Théoneste Bagosora, in which was decided the enthronement of Colonel Bagosora as the strongman of the moment.

KWITONDA Thaddée, was born in 1963 in the commune of Cyeru in the prefecture of Ruhengeri. Kwitonda is a proven extremist who was first a member of the MDR party before joining the CDR. He married the daughter of Maurice Ntahobali and Pauline Nyiramasuhuko, who was the Minister of the Family during the genocide, the only woman to have been convicted of genocide by the ICTR. Kwitonda moved to Butare during the first massacres of April 1994. He was Deputy Secretary-General of the National Bank of Rwanda (BNR), where he organized and participated in the Tutsi massacres. He is also prosecuted for committing acts of violence in Nyakabanda, Gitarama Prefecture.

After the genocide, he took refuge in Zaire where he headed the Kashusha camp near the town of Bukavu, then in Belgium in 1997. After obtaining Belgian nationality, he worked as a defense investigator at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) from June 1999 to July 2001. He investigated in particular for Arsène Shalom Ntahobali. His contract was broken due to serious indications of his participation in the genocide.

When the Belgian court opened investigation against him in 2006, he left for Uganda where he took the name of John Tumwesigye. He was arrested in Kampala on 5 July 2012 and deported to Belgium following an international arrest warrant issued against him.

It should be reminded that the Belgian justice has already tried eight Rwandans involved in the Genocide committed against the Tutsi in 1994: Alphonse Higaniro who was sentenced to 20 years imprisonment in 2001, Sister Mukangango Consolate and Sister Julienne Mukabutera (Sister Kizito) sentenced to 15 years and 12 years in prison in 2001, Vincent Ntezimana sentenced to 12 years imprisonment in 2001, Etienne Nzabonimana sentenced to 12 years imprisonment in 2005, Samuel Ndashyikirwa who was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment in 2005 , Bernard Ntuyahaga sentenced to 20 years imprisonment in 2007 and Ephrem Nkezabera who had been sentenced to 30 years imprisonment in 2009 and died before his appeal was heard.