It’s been a long time since I posted about Charles Munyaneza, Celestin Ugirashebuja, Emmanuel Nteziryayo and Dr Vincent Bajinya. (See my earlier posts Genocidaires in Suburbia, Genocidaires Still in Suburbia, Genocidaires no Longer in Suburbia? and Suburban genocidaires in extradition hearings
The BBC reports that the men have won a High Court battle to halt their extradition to Rwanda to face mass murder charges. Senior judges ruled that there was "a real risk" they would suffer "a flagrant denial of justice". The court also ordered the four men, who have been held in custody since December 2006, be released.
Lord Justice Laws and Lord Justice Sullivan, sitting at London's High Court, allowed the appeals by Dr Bajinya and his three co-defendants against the extradition ruling by Home Secretary Jacqui Smith because, the judges said, there was evidence that defence witnesses in Rwanda were afraid to give evidence in the men's favour.
They refused the Rwandan government, represented by the Crown Prosecution Service, permission to appeal to the House of Lords against their ruling. The judges' decision is thought to be the first time an English court has ever blocked an extradition request from a foreign government on the grounds that it would violate Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which safeguards the right to a fair trial.
Anti-genocide campaigners condemned the court's decision, saying that it sent a message to the Rwandan people that the suspected killers of their families could "walk free with impunity". Dr James Smith of the Aegis Trust, which campaigns against genocide told the BBC that the UK government should change the law to allow British courts to prosecute crimes against humanity.
The allegations against Bayinja were the most serious. He was allegedly a member of the governing MRND party, and present at a key 1993 meeting in a stadium in Kigali at which the anti-Tutsi "Hutu Power" movement was said to have been born. Bayinja is then alleged to have attended a series of "genocide meetings" in Kigali and become a leader in the Interahamwe militia. He set up roadblocks in the Rugenge area of Kigali, ordering the militia to kill anyone they suspected of being a Tutsi.
Charles Munyaneza was bourgmestre (mayor) of the Kinyamakara commune. He was accused of organising the training of the Interahamwe militias and supervising road blocks to identify Tutsis. Emmanuel Nteziryayo, was bourgmestre of the Mudasomwa commune, and allegedly handed out weapons, oversaw roadblocks and once drove Tutsis to a police station to be killed. Ugirashebuja, was bourgmestre of the Kigoma commune. He was accused of organising road blocks, urging Hutus to kill Tutsis and distributing guns.
The charges against the men were extremely serious and should have been tested in a court of law. This will not happen now unless the Government were to introduce appropriate legislation, which is unlikely. Now it seems that four men who were likely involved in a foul act of butchery will never have to answer