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Friday, May 24, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Europe Has No Reason to Prevent Genocide Trial

(CN) - Rwanda can extradite a refugee living in Denmark to face charges of genocide, the European Court of Human Rights ruled.

Swedish authorities arrested Sylvere Ahorugeze in July 2008 after learning that the Rwandan Embassy had issued on the former head of the Rwandan Civil Aviation Authority an international warrant.

A year earlier, Denmark had ignored a similar extradition request from Rwandan authorities on charges of genocide and crimes against humanities, citing a lack of evidence. Denmark had granted Ahorugeze refugee status when he moved there in 2001.

After a Swedish court authorized Ahorugeze's detention, the nation prepared to grant extradition, noting that Rwanda had abolished death penalty and life imprisonment in isolation and boasted acceptable prison conditions.

Ahorugeze appealed to the EU Court of Human Rights, saying that trial in Rwanda would deny him a fair trial and subject him to inhuman treatment.

In 2008 and 2009, several countries refused to transfer genocide suspects to Rwanda amid fears that they would not receive a fair trial.

The Strasbourg-based European Court of Human Rights rejected the claim on Thursday, noting Rwandan laws have changed in the last two years and legal practice had improved.

"Considering in detail the changes in legislation and practice, the court concluded that the Rwandan courts were expected to act in a manner compatible with the Convention requirements for fair trial," according to a statement from the court.

Ahorugeze can appoint a lawyer of his choice and benefit from public counsel. He will also be able to call witnesses to testify on his behalf, according to the court, which found that prison conditions acceptable and there is no evidence that Ahorugeze's Hutu ethnicity will result in persecution.

Ahorugeze will remain in Sweden until the court's judgment is finalized.

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