Paris, June 3, 2011 (FH) - A decision rendered on May 31 by Roskilde court (East of Copenhagen) in the trial of a Rwandan citizen charged with genocide raised an unsolved question for Denmark's judiciary.

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The tribunal stated that "the court finds there is no legal basis in Denmark to prosecute foreigners charged with genocide in another country".

"This decision is an issue, it is the first case with genocide charges brought behind a Danish court", says Birgitte Vestberg, Special Prosecutor for international crimes. "But at the bottom line, it does not make much difference if the person is convicted by Danish law. It is an academic question".

Indeed, Roskilde court indicated its intention to try Emmanuel Mbarushimana for alleged murders, even though it won't be under the qualification of genocide.

"How can one say it's an academic question?" Bjorn Elmquist protested in an interview to Hirondelle News agency. As representing Mbarushimana, he filed the claim requesting a cancellation of genocide charges because he knew the question was tricky.

"It is very important for the accused to know whether his trial is about genocide or not. For a fair trial to take place, formal conditions must be fulfilled", the Danish lawyer, also a renowned politician in his country, added.

"I have been a deputy for 15 years and from a social, moral and judicial point of view I can't accept that people who would have been part of genocide could go unpunished".

And yet Denmark claims her willingness to prosecute this type of crimes. A Special International Crimes Office was created in 2002 which has so far opened 228 investigations. However, only two cases are currently on trial.

A lawyer at the Norwegian Center for Human Rights (NCHR), Marit Vik has read Roskilde court's decision. "The decisive argument for the court was discussions prior to the ratification and implementation of the Genocide Convention in 1955.

The views expressed by Danish authorities, was in general the common views on the principle of state sovereignty and non-interference by other states, as accepted by most states in 1955." she explained.

Penal code evolved after Denmark ratified the Rome Treaty founding the International Criminal Court (ICC) in 2001. A legislative reform followed in 2009. However, it "let this issue open to interpretation", regrets Special Prosecutor Birgitte Vestberg.

According to Marit Vik, there should be little doubt on the matter: "European Court for Human Rights, the ICTR and ICTY have all stated in various judgments that universal jurisdiction for the crime of genocide is established and accepted.

Therefore, Act VI in the Genocide Convention should not be interpreted as to include only prosecution in the territory in which the crimes took place.

I can only, therefore, conclude that the decision is not in compliance with internationally accepted views and interpretation of the Genocide Convention."

The Prosecution will decide in the coming days if they file an appeal.


© Hirondelle News Agency