Paris, 16 May 2008 (FH) - The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) rejected Thursday an urgent motion filed by former Rwandan Deputy Governor Dominique Ntawukuriryayo against a French decision authorizing his transfer to the Arusha-based International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), where he is accused of genocide and crimes against humanity, reports Hirondelle Agency.

1 min 32Approximate reading time

On 7 May, the French Final Court of Appeal confirmed a decision of the Court of Appeal of Paris which ordered his transfer to the UN tribunal. Ntawukuriryayo was Deputy Governor in Gisagara, southern Rwanda, during the genocide

Ntawukuriryayo's defence fears that he will ultimately be transferred to Kigali by the ICTR as part of the tribunal's exit strategy. The UN Security Council has ordered ICTR to complete all first instance trials before end of December 2008.

Ntawukuriryayo, 66, was arrested on 16 October 2007 in Carcassonne, south-western France, by an arrest warrant issued by the ICTR on 21 September 2007. He had been living in France since 1999, under a visitor's visa.

On 16 January, the Final Court of Appeal cancelled, due to legal error, a decision by the Court of Appeal of Paris authorizing Ntawukuriryayo's transfer to the ICTR. The case was returned before other magistrates of the Court of Appeal who also ordered his transfer.

The ICTR indictment alleges that the acts of Ntawukuriryayo led to killings of not less than 25, 000 ethnic Tutsi refugees on Kabuye Hill, Butare Province, Southern Rwanda, between 21 and 25 April 1994.

In 2000, the French courts had transferred two Rwandan nationals to the ICTR for trials. Jean de Dieu Kamuhanda, the former Minister for Higher Education, who has since been sentenced to life in prison, and François Xavier Nzuwonemeye, a former officer, who is currently on trial. On 13 March, the prosecution in Paris opened a judicial inquiry for genocide, crime against humanity and complicity against Ntawukuriryayo.

Two other Rwandans accused by the ICTR are currently held in Europe under an ICTR extradition request. They are former Minister for Planning Augustin Ngirabztware (held in Germany since September 2007) and Michel Bagaragaza, detained in The Netherlands after the cancellation of transfer of his case to the Dutch courts.

The tribunal has tried 35 people while 28 others are currently on trial. Eleven trials are on-going, four of which have closed and are awaiting judgments. Six people, detained in Arusha, are still waiting to be tried.

The UN has estimated that about 800,000 ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed in the April-July slaughter in Rwanda.


© Hirondelle News Agency