Arusha, 3 September 2008 (FH) -Genocide-acquitted former Rwandan Education Minister, Andre Rwamakuba, 58, left on Monday for Vaud, Switzerland after spending two years in Arusha, Tanzania, seat of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), without a host country.

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"He flew out on Monday after the Swiss government approved his family reunification visa,'' confirmed Mandiaye Niang, Special Assistant to the ICTR Registrar.

The visa delay, according to sources, was to ensure proper immigration status of his family living in Switzerland, which was completed in June.

Among those who saw Rwamakuba off at the airport was his room-mate in their secret Arusha location, Andre Ntagerura, former Rwandan Minister for Transport and Communications.

Ntagerura, who was acquitted in 2004 and the decision confirmed by the Appeals Court in 2006, is seeking for an asylum in Canada for the past four years without any success. Through his Counsel, Ntagerura has now filed a case before the Canadian Federal Court to enforce the asylum request.

Both, Rwamakuba and Ntagerura, were charged with genocide and crimes against humanity during the April-July 1994 killings, which according to the United Nations, claimed lives of about 800,000 people, mostly ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus.

Rwamakuba was compensated US Dollars 2,000(approximately one million Rwandan Francs) by the ICTR early this year for violation of his rights while in detention-stayed without a lawyer during the first months of his arrest.

The Registry has an obligation to make sure that an accused was assisted by a lawyer at all stages of the procedure.

In a judgment delivered on 20 September 2006, ICTR Chamber upheld Rwamakuba's claim for compensation.

Consequently, the former minister, assisted by his lawyer David Hooper, filed a motion and received from the Chamber a decision obligating the Registry to pay 2, 000 US Dollars.

The judges, however, rejected Rwamakuba's claims for reparations for having been arrested and detained for nearly eight years.

Rwamakuba is the fourth acquitted person to get a host country. Others are: former Mayor of Mabanza, Ignace Baglishema (France); former Governor of Cyangugu; Emmanuel Bagambiki (Belgium); and former Mayor of Rukara, Jean Mpambara (Mayotte).

The tribunal was working on transfer of 18 convicted persons still held at the UN Special Detention Facility, on the outskirts of Arusha.

Six detainees are already serving their sentences in Mali and one in Italy.

Currently, 29 accused are on trial. A total of 30 persons have been convicted since the tribunal was set up in November, 1994 and five have been acquitted.


© Hirondelle News Agency