Paris, July 11, 2012 (FH) – The Court of Cassation, France's highest court of appeal, has overturned on procedural grounds a March 29 decision of the Rouen Appeals Court that Claude Muhayimana should be extradited to Rwanda to face genocide charges.

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Muhayimana greeted the decision with “great relief”, according to his lawyer Philippe Meilhac.   Rwanda wants Muhayimana for crimes allegedly committed in Kibuye region in 1994. The extradition request was not filed until December 13, 2011. Muhayimana says he suspects it may be linked to his political activities within the opposition Rwanda National Congress (RNC), a party founded by Rwandan exiles formerly close to President Paul Kagame.

Muhayimana has been living for more than ten years in France, where he works in Rouen as a road-mender and has obtained French nationality.   The Court of Cassation said the Rouen court had not looked sufficiently into whether the suspect's rights would be respected in Rwanda in his particular case, nor had it allowed Muhayimana to explain his allegations of a political motive behind the Rwandan extradition request.