Arusha, February 8, 2000 (FH) - The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) has expressed satisfaction at a British court's decision to confirm its arrest warrant for genocide suspect Tharcisse Muvunyi. Muvunyi is facing extradition from Britain to the ICTR in Arusha, Tanzania,"We are happy at the decision, and we are confident that he will end up here soon," said ICTR spokesman Kingsley Moghalu.

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Bow Street Magistrates court on Monday ordered that Muvunyi should remain in custody, and gave him 15 days to appeal his extradition. His defence team are reported to be considering an appeal, on the grounds that the court's decision to approve the warrant was wrong in law. In a 30-minute appearance before the London court, Muvunyi denied all the charges against him. The ICTR wants him for genocide, incitement to genocide and crimes against humanity, including rape. "He never took part in these acts, he did not instigate them and he did not incite others to commit them," defence lawyer Michael Fisher told the court. Fisher said his client had in fact tried to prevent the genocide. "It was impossible for my client, with his limited resources, manpower and equipment to prevent the horror," he said. "He did everything he could in his power to prevent the atrocities from occurring. "Sources in London said that if Muvunyi decided to appeal, it could be weeks or even months before Muvunyi is handed over to the Tribunal. If he does not appeal within 15 days, his extradition must first be rubber-stamped by Britain's Home Secretary Jack Straw. British police arrested Muvunyi in London at the weekend, after the ICTR sent the British authorities an arrest warrant for him on Friday. He had been living in Britain on social security, and had been granted temporary asylum. At the time of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, Muvunyi was commander of the ESO (Ecole des Sous-Officiers) military school in the southern district of Butare, where some of the worst massacres took place. He had effective control over all the military operations in Butare prefecture at the time. Muvunyi is held responsible for atrocities committed by soldiers under his command, including the killing of two Tutsi priests and of 25 Tutsi children who were hunted down in a convent. According to the indictment, many women and girls were raped in the geographical area under Muvunyi's command. He knew that his subordinates were involved in rape, but did nothing to stop it or to punish the perpetrators. JC/FH (MV%0208e)