Belgium to Prosecute Genocide Suspects

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By Daniel Sabbiti

French judiciary has appointed three judges to investigate a case in which a French bank BNP-Paribas allegedly financed and fueled genocide activities in Rwanda.

On Monday, the Paris judiciary confirmed it opened an investigation for “complicity in genocide and complicity in crimes against humanity” on August 22, and asked the Paris genocide and war crimes division, to run the probe.

French judge Alexandre Baillon of the High Court of Paris is in charge of the investigation.

The lawsuit was filed this year, in France by Sherpa, which defends victims of economic crimes; Ibuka France chapter, a Rwanda victims’ association; and the France-based Collective of Civil Parties for Rwanda, which pursues claims against genocide suspects.

The commission is already handling 25 other cases linked to the 1994 genocide against Tutsi.

BNP allegedly authorized a transfer of $1.3 million (1.1 million euros) to the then regime in June 1994, one month after the United Nations had placed an embargo on weapons deliveries to Rwanda.

In the meantime, a former Rwandan prosecutor and three of his compatriots prosecuted for genocide, arraigned before Belgian Justice.

On Tuesday 19, September 2017, a hearing for settlement of proceedings, concerning four Rwandan nationals charged with the crime of genocide and war crimes, was held in camera in the chambers of the Tribunal of First Instance of Brussels.

The accused: Mathias Bushishi – the former state prosecutor at the Tribunal of First Instance in Butare, Southern Province of Rwanda, who is being arraigned in the same case as Captain Ildefonse Nizeyimana; while Thadée Kwitonda and Colonel Jean-Marie Vianney Ndahimana are being arraigned in a second case.

However the Belgian Federal Prosecutor’s Office sought correctionalization with regard to Mathias Bushishi and Thadée Kwitonda, under Beligian law of 4 October 1867.

Correctionalization is a technique which, for facts classified as crimes and which, originally should be tried by a Cour d’Assises, to refer them to a Correctional Court if it is considered that there may be mitigating circumstances or another cause of excuse.

Federal Prosecutor’s Office also sought Nizeyimana a ‘Non bis in idem’- a fundamental guarantee of the right to a fair trial to ensure that a person is not tried twice for the same acts.

Nizeyimana already tried and sentenced by the ICTR to 35 years in prison.

Court decided that cases were scheduled for continuation on December 19, 2017 for the hearing of oral submissions of the civil parties (Bushishi case only) and the defense.

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