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Former Rwandan official transferred back to UN war crimes tribunal

Former Rwandan official transferred back to UN war crimes tribunal

A former senior Rwandan official who stands accused of involvement in the 1994 genocide has been transferred from The Hague back to Arusha, Tanzania – where the United Nations war crimes tribunal to deal with the mass killings is based – after the Netherlands ruled that it did not have jurisdiction in trying his case.

Michel Bagaragaza was the Director General of the office controlling the Rwandan tea industry during the genocide.

According to the UN International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), he “is charged with ordering his subordinates and with instigating, aiding and abetting others over whom he did not have authority to kill hundreds of Tutsi civilians who sought refuge on Kesho Hill near a tea factory in Rubaya and in Nyundo Cathedral, both in Gisenyi Prefecture.”

He was alleged to have helped establish, fund, train and arm the Hutu-dominated rebel Interahamwe militia to carry out attacks on Tutsi civilians and to have been the honorary president of a local Interahamwe unit. He also allegedly ordered tea factory employees to provide the Interahamwe with vehicle fuel, arms and ammunition from a stockpile at the factory and ordered them to help kill hundreds of Tutsis, the Tribunal said.

Shortly after surrendering to the ICTR in Arusha in August 2005, Mr. Bagaragaza was transferred to the detention unit in The Hague of the UN International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) for security reasons.

Both the Governments of Norway and the Netherlands have attempted to have the case transferred to their countries. In the case of Norway, the Scandinavian nation’s Prosecutor found that its criminal law did not provide for the crime of genocide.

Last August, the order to refer Mr. Bagaragaza’s case was revoked by the Netherlands on the grounds that the country does not have any jurisdiction in this instance.