Paris, October 3, 2011 (FH) - The French Interior Ministry has brought before the Council of State, France's highest administrative jurisdiction, an ongoing battle over whether Gratien Kabiligi, a former Rwandan general acquitted by the ICTR in 2008, should be granted a visa to live in France. The case underlines an ongoing headache for the ICTR and an ongoing political football among UN member states over what to do with ICTR acquitted persons.

1 min 38Approximate reading time

Kabiligi wants to join his wife and two daughters, who settled in France in June 2008 and were subsequently granted French citizenship.

The Ministry is asking the Council of State to cancel an August 23 order by the administrative tribunal of Nantes (western France) to reexamine "within fifteen days" its decision refusing Kabiligi a visa for the second time. The Nantes tribunal said the Interior Ministry was relying on "unsupported allegations" to refuse Kabiligi a long-term visa. Stressing the point, its presiding judge Bernard Madelaine added that "the international community would not be disturbed by the fact that a State which signed the Treaty creating the ICTR should welcome on his territory a man acquitted by the very same tribunal".

Instead of complying with the Nantes tribunal's ruling, the Ministry took its case to the Council of State on September 8. It wants the Nantes decision reversed on grounds that Kabiligi's presence in France may threaten public order.

"The Ministry should pay a daily penalty until it respects the court's decision," Kabiligi's lawyer Alexandre Varaut told Hirondelle News Agency.  "It is unbelievable to see that the State is not complying with the law. I read the arguments of the Ministry, which allege that Mr. Kabiligi would be a representative of Hutu power. But what evidence supports that statement? Nothing, Zero!"

Kabiligi was arrested in 1997 and his trial before the ICTR started in 2002. He was acquitted on December 18, 2008. Since then, he has been living in a safe house in Arusha, Tanzania, waiting for resettlement in another country.

Two other former genocide suspects acquitted by the ICTR, André Ntagerura and Protais Zigiranyiraso, have been languishing for years in safe houses in Arusha, Tanzania, where the ICTR is based, because they cannot find a host state. 

Former Rwandan Transport Minister Ntagerura was acquitted in 2006, while Zigiranyiraso, a brother-in-law of the late president Juvénal Habyarimana, was cleared in 2009.

Two others who were acquitted by the ICTR last Friday, former Health Minister Casimir Bizimungu and Foreign Affairs Minister Jerome Bicamumpaka, will also be looking for somewhere to go.


© Hirondelle News Agency