Arusha, June 7, 2012 (FH) – The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) has transferred to Rwanda for trial the case of genocide-accused Bernard Munyagishari. It is the fifth case to be referred to the East African country for prosecution.

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"The Referral Chamber orders the case to be referred to the authorities of the Republic of Rwanda, so that those authorities should forthwith refer the case to the High Court of Rwanda for an expeditious trial," reads part of the decision dated June 6, 2012.

The Chamber presided by Kenyan Judge Lee Muthoga also ordered the Tribunal’s Prosecutor to hand over materials supporting the indictment to the Rwandan Prosecutor General not later than 30 days after the decision has become final.

Such decision followed a motion lodged by prosecution on October 3, 2011, for referral of Munyagishari’s case to Rwanda. Judges had previously denied such applications, saying they were not convinced that the accused would receive fair trial.

But in the ruling, the Chamber noted that, “in recent years, Rwanda has made material changes in its laws and has indicated its capacity and willingness to prosecute cases referred by this Tribunal.’’

If the decision were to be  confirmed on appeal, Munyagishari would be the second ICTR detainee to have his case heard by Rwandan judiciary. The first detainee, currently waiting for beginning of his case before the High Court in Kigali, is Pastor Jean Uwinkindi. He was transferred from the ICTR custody to Rwanda on April 19, 2012.

The three other cases involve fugitives Fulgence Kayishema and Charles Sikubwabo, both former officials from western region of Kibuye and Ladislas Ntaganzwa, who was a mayor in Butare, South Rwanda.

Other decisions are being awaited on two pending referral applications involving fugitives, Aloys Ndimbati, former mayor of Gisovu commune and Charles Ryandikayo, the ex-manager of a restaurant in Gishyita commune (Kibuye prefecture).

Munyagishari was the alleged leader of the Interahamwe militias and Secretary of the then ruling party in Gisenyi prefecture. He is charged with conspiracy to commit genocide, genocide or, in the alternative, complicity in genocide, murder and rape as crimes against humanity.

He was arrested on May 25, 2011 in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and transferred to UN Detention in Arusha, Tanzania on June 14, 2011. He made his initial appearance before the Tribunal on June 20, 2011 and pleaded not guilty to the charges.