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France approves first extradition to Rwanda

A French court in the town of Rouen decided that French-Rwandan citizen Claude Muhayimana can be sent to Rwanda to face charges concerning his involvement in the 1994 Rwandan genocide [UN backgrounder], reports said on Friday. An international arrest warrant for Muhayimana was issued in December after he was accused of participating in killings and other crimes against humanity. A lawyer for Muhayimana indicated that while he would be willing to stand trial in the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) [official website] or France, he does not believe he will have a fair trial in Rwanda. The French government has not yet decided whether to extradite Muhayimana. France has previously extradited individuals [Al Jazeera report] charged for participating in the Rwandan genocide to face charges at the ICTR in Tanzania, but has not yet extradited anyone to Rwanda itself to stand trial. France has never allowed a French national to be extradited.

Several other individuals are facing charges in Rwandan courts for their involvement in the genocide. In February, the ICTR decided to transfer the case of Fulgence Kayishema to the Rwandan authorities [JURIST report]. Kayishema, former Judicial Police Inspector of Kivumu Commune in Kibuye Prefecture, was charged and indicted in absentia for his involvement in the 1994 Rwandan genocide, but he has remained at large. Also in February, war crimes suspect Leon Mugesera was charged with genocide planning, incitement and distribution of arms [JURIST report] in a Kigali court in Rwanda. He was deported from Canada to Rwanda following a 16-year battle in the Canadian court system in which Mugesera attempted to stay in Canada. A speech he made before the Rwandan genocide began, in which he equated Tutsis to cockroaches, is credited with having been the driving force behind the genocide.

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Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

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