Brussels, 3 June 2008 (FH) - Belgium has confirmed that it was investigating Emmanuel Bagambiki, former Governor of Cyangugu during the 1994 genocide, who was acquitted by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) and who is sought t by Rwanda, reports Hirondelle Agency.

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"The federal prosecutor is looking at the [Bagambiki's] extradition request and that there is an arrest warrant issued against him [by Rwanda]','said Lieve Pellens spokesperson of the prosecutor.

However, he hinted that Belgium and Rwanda, for the time being, do not have an extradition agreement, but affirmed that Investigations were underway against the former Rwandan official, who is living in Belgium with his family.

Following his final acquittal by the ICTR appeals court, on 8 February 2006, for crimes of genocide and crimes against humanity, Rwanda decided to prosecute the former Governor for rape, for which he was not tried by the UN tribunal.

On 10 October 2007, the Court of First Instance of Rusizi, his native region, sentenced Bagambiki in absentia to life in prison for rape and incitement to commit rape.

A source told Hirondelle that the federal prosecutor, Phillippe Meire, had recently travelled to Rwanda to follow up on the judgement.

If extradition was rejected, Belgium could decide to prosecute Bagambiki itself if there was any convincing evidence.

The lawyer for Bagambiki, Vincent Lurquin, reached in Arusha [where he is defending another defendant before the ICTR] stated Tuesday that his client had never been informed of the rape charges and Rwanda has never communicated the judgement issued against Bagambaki in absentia, although it has requested for it on several occasions.

He, moreover, clarified that if his client had not been tried for rape it was because he had not been charged by the office of the prosecutor of the ICTR. His acquittal is "a true acquittal", he stated, reminding that the judges unanimously recognized his client's innocence.

After lengthy procedures, notably to the Council of State, the highest jurisdiction of the country, Bagambiki obtained in July 2007, the right to join in Belgium his wife and children under the entitlement of family reunion.


© Hirondelle News Agency