Arusha, June 3, 2013 (FH) – Rwanda is preparing to receive a second genocide suspect from the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, former militiaman Bernard Munyagishari. This comes after the ICTR on Thursday rejected his last appeal.

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The accused will join in Rwanda Pentecostal Pastor Jean Uwinkindi, who was transferred by the ICTR in April 2013 but whose trial has not yet started.

Munyagishari is currently detained in the ICTR Detention Facility in Arusha, Tanzania. During the 1994 genocide he was Secretary General of the former ruling party MRND in Gisenyi prefecture, northern Rwanda. He was also president of the party’s youth wing in the region, the Interahamwe.

The ICTR approved a prosecution request for Munyagishari’s transfer on June 6, 2012, and confirmed it on appeal on May 3 this year. In a last-ditch appeal filed three days later, Munyagishari asked the Tribunal to stay his transfer until he had received the French versions of the Appeals Court decision and his amended indictment. He also sought information about the setting up of a mechanism to monitor his trial and prison conditions in Rwanda.

In a decision dated May 30, ICTR Appeals Court president Theodor Meron notes that the accused received his amended indictment in French on May 10, but is still waiting for the translation of the decision confirming his transfer, which is a 47-page document. The American judge therefore ordered that Munyagishari’s transfer be carried out not less than three days after he has received the French version of the Appeals Court decision. Munyagishari’s request for information about a monitoring mechanism was rejected.

In a statement, Rwandan Attorney General Martin Ngoga thanked the ICTR for its “confidence” in the Rwandan judicial system.

The ICTR has also confirmed six other case transfers to Rwanda, but they all concern suspects who are on the run: Lieutenant-Colonel Phénéas Munyarugarama, former mayors Charles Sikubwabo, Ladislas Ntaganzwa and Aloys Ndimbati, former judicial police inspector Fulgence Kayishema and former restaurant owner Charles Ryandikayo. It is up to Rwanda to track them down and arrest them, before it can try them.

Apart from Rwanda, the only other country to which the ICTR has transferred cases is France. Two cases have been transferred there.

These transfers are part of the closure strategy of the ICTR, which must finish its work by December 2014 at the latest, according to the UN Security Council.

The ICTR has already started transferring some of its functions to the Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals (MICT).