After a three-year long investigation, Special Prosecutor Birgitte Vertsberg issued an indictment on September 13 against Emmanuel Mbarushimana, a 49 year-old Rwandan who had been living in exile in Roskilde (30 km from Copenhagen) since 2001 under a false name.
Mbarushimana was arrested in December 2010. A former primary school inspector in Butare prefecture, he is charged with participating in killings during the 1994 genocide. "He is charged for being one of the leaders of two road blocks, for ordering a twelve years old boy to be executed, and for being the leader of a number of people who attacked people on Kabuye's hill between 21 to 25 April", Deputy Prosecutor Lars Plum told Hirondelle News Agency.
In 2006, Kigali indicated that at least fifteen Rwandan genocide suspects were living in Denmark. The same year, Denmark announced it would try Rwanda's former director of civil aviation, Sylvère Ahorugeze. After 11 months in custody, he was released due to lack of evidence.
Emmanuel Mbarushimana is the first Rwandan citizen to be brought before a Danish court. "We are ready. Whether it's a strong case or not that has to be decided by the court. We have of course made up our mind to reasonably believe that this case could lead to a conviction", Lars Plum explained.
However, a decision rendered on May 31 by Roskilde court (East of Copenhagen) raised an unsolved question for Denmark's judiciary. The tribunal stated that "the court finds there is no legal basis in Denmark to prosecute foreigners charged with genocide in another country".
SICO appealed the decision but did not wait for the appeals court ruling to issue and indictment against Emmanuel Mbarushimana. "That's why we still maintain the charges on genocide, Lars Plum explained. Would it confirm that Denmark has no jurisdiction on genocide committed abroad, we will proceed the case but then only on charges of man slaughter. In any case, the case will be taken to court".
"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", Mbarushiamana's Danish lawyer Bjorn Elmquist, also a renowned politician in his country, added. " We requested further clarification on this point before the trial starts".
The appeals court is expected to render a decision within a month.
ICTR last month gave the Prosecution the identity of a protected witness who testified in Pauline Nyiramasuhuko's trial. He is expected to testify openly in Mbarushimana's case.
© Hirondelle News Agency