Montreal, 1 September 2008 (FH) - The lawyer for Andre Ntagerura, a former Rwandan Minister acquitted of genocide, has filed a motion in the Federal Court to order the Canadian Minister for Immigration to speed up asylum procedures for the ex-politician currently stuck in Arusha, Tanzania, the seat of the UN Court, trying the key suspects of the 1994 killings, reports Hirondelle Agency.

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In a 20-page motion, of which the Hirondelle has obtained a copy, Counsel Philippe Larochelle stated that Canada, a staunch member of the UN, was source of violation of Ntagerura's basic rights for the past four years, urging the Federal Court's urgent intervention over the issue.

A spokesperson for the Canadian Ministry of Justice confirmed that the case has been with them since 22 August 2008 and a 30-day period has been schedule for a response.

Accused of crimes against humanity and of genocide, the former Minister for Transport and Communications was arrested in Cameroon in 1996.

He was tried in 2000 by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) and was acquitted in 2004 and a decision upheld by the Appeals Court in 2006.

Ntagerura's accommodation and food expenses are currently financed by the ICTR, which has been desperately struggling to find him a host country since his acquittal.

To ensure the safety of the ex-Rwandan Minister during the interim government in power during the 1994 genocide, the ICTR had requested in April 2004 the Canadian authorities to grant him asylum in line with the UN statute and obligations of the member states.

However, despite the request, nothing much has been forthcoming

According to counsel Larochelle, the former Rwandan minister obtained a response from the Canadian government only in April 2008. "He[Ntagerura] received a response that he should have addressed his case to the High Commission in Nairobi, Kenya, like any person making an immigration request", the lawyer told Hirondelle Agency.

The Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs has declined a comment over the issue.


© Hirondelle News Agency