Global Policy Forum

Belgium Trials ‘Good Thing for Rwanda’


Hirondelle News Agency
April 27, 2005

The scheduled trial of two Rwandan war crimes suspects in Belgium is a commendable effort that should be emulated by other countries, a senior Rwandan prosecutor told Hirondelle News Agency on Wednesday. "We are very happy with the efforts of the Belgian judiciary", said Senior Prosecutor Emmanuel Rukangira who has worked with the Belgian investigators on the cases. "This is a good thing for Rwanda and everyone else. It is a sign that everyone is realizing that genocide and war crimes can't go unpunished", he added.

War crimes suspects Etienne Nzabonimana and Samuel Ndashikirwa are former businessmen from the east Rwanda province of Kibungo who were living in Belgium when arrested in 2002 . The trial is scheduled to start on May 9th. They are accused, in particular, of providing vehicles to transport killers to massacre sites, among them the Nyarubuye parish, where tens of thousands of members of the Tutsi ethnic group had taken refuge.

"There will be 105 witnesses going to testify in this trial from Rwanda", Rukangira said. He also said that the trial would be followed by more war crimes trials in Belgium related to the Rwandan genocide. "Soon trials for Major Bernard Ntuyahaga, Ephrem Nkezabera and Jean Baptiste Butera will begin", he added. Ntuyahaga is accused of taking part in the killing of Rwandan Prime Minister Agathe Uwilingiyimana and 10 Belgian peacekeepers at the start of the 1994 genocide. Nkezabera is former employee of the Commercial Bank of Rwanda (BCR), while Butera was a deputy Préfet (governor) in Kigali rural province.

These will not be the first trials of Rwandans in Belgium for crimes related to the genocide. Two Belgian nuns and two former civil servants were convicted by a Belgian court for their roles in the killing of thousands of ethnic Tutsis in Butare province during the genocide. Belgium's universal jurisdiction law allows it to prosecute war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by foreigners outside its territory.

More Information on International Justice
More Information on the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda
More Information on Universal Jurisdiction


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