Kigali, 23 February 2009 (FH) - The Rwandan government called on the international community to do everything that it could so that the people suspected of having played a part in the 1994 genocide are extradited to Kigali or tried in the countries where they have fled.

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"The Government of Rwanda urges the international community to make every effort to ensure that genocide suspects are transferred to Rwanda for trial, or are tried where they are", stated a statement signed by the Minister for Justice, Tharcisse Karugarama, and whose copy was dispatched to the Hirondelle Agency.

He deplored that 15 years after the genocide, the perpetrators continue to live free mostly in Europe and North America, as well as in some African countries.

Finland refused last week to extradite a Rwandan pastor, François Bazaramba, on suspicion that he would not benefit from a fair trial in his country.

The ministry of justice in Helsinki indicated that he had based his decision on judgments of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) prohibiting "the transfer of three cases before Rwandan courts ... for the reason that it is not established that the defendants would benefit from a fair trial in Rwanda".

Rwanda had requested extradition of Bazaramba in April 2008.

"The Government of Rwanda is disappointed by the decision of the Finish judiciary", added the statement, by stressing that the legal apparatus in Rwanda was "fair, transparent and independent".

"It is important to note that the ordinary courts of law in Rwanda have judged more than 15,000 cases of genocide and related crimes, and only a small fraction of those suspects remain in jail today", underscored the Rwandan Minister.

"The majority have either been re-integrated to their communities or have been acquitted, while others are doing community work, commonly referred to as Travaux d'Interet General (TIG)", an alternate sentence to imprisonment, stated the minister.

"On the other hand, the Gacaca courts, have tried more than 1.5 million cases, and again, only a small fraction of those are serving prison sentences", adds the text.

Committed by Hutu extremists, the genocide from April to July 1994 resulted, according to the UN, resulted in the deaths of nearly 800 000 people, mostly ethnic Tutsis.


© Hirondelle News Agency