Arusha July 24, 2013 (FH) – The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) on Wednesday handed over a second accused to the Rwandan authorities, in line with a transfer decision by the Court.

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“The plane carrying him has landed, and Munyagishari has disembarked,” spokesman for the Kigali Attorney General’s office Alain Mukurarunda confirmed to Hirondelle by phone.

Bernard Munyagishari was Secretary General of the former ruling party MRND in the northern prefecture of Gisenyi during the 1994 genocide. He was also President of the party’s youth wing, the Interahamwe, in the same region. The ICTR has charged him with conspiracy to commit genocide, genocide or, in the alternative, complicity in genocide, murder and rape as crimes against humanity.

The accused joins in Rwanda Pentecostal Pastor Jean Uwinkindi, who was transferred by the ICTR last year.

The ICTR approved a prosecution request for Munyagishari’s transfer on June 6, 2012, and confirmed it on appeal on May 3 this year. Since then, however, he has managed to suspend implementation of the transfer decision through a series of defence submissions. He argued in vain that his rights would not be respected in Rwanda.

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.

The transfer of accused persons to national jurisdictions is in line with the closure strategy of the ICTR, which must finish its work by the end of 2014 at the latest.

Prior to June 2011, the ICTR rejected several requests from the ICTR Prosecutor to transfer detainees to Rwanda, saying that Rwanda did not fulfill the conditions for a fair trial. The UN court has changed its position following a series of judicial reforms in Rwanda.