LONDON, UK – A French court has for the first time approved the extradition of one of its citizens to Rwanda to face charges over the central African state’s 1994 genocide.
Friday’s ruling by a court in Rouen follows an international arrest warrant issued in December for 51-year-old French-Rwandan dual national Claude Muhayimana, who is accused of taking part in genocide and committing crimes against humanity, according to the Agence France Presse.
The extradition still requires approval from the French government. Muhayimana’s lawyer, Geraldine Boitieux, said her client, a municipal employee in Rouen, denied all the charges against him and would appeal the decision.
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France has previously extradited Rwandan citizens to Tanzania to go on trial at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), but has never sent anyone to Rwanda itself to face trial, according to Al Jazeera.
Boitieuz told the Agence France Presse Muhayimana would be happy to stand trial before a French court or at the ICTR, but not in Rwanda, saying:
“My client believes he has no guarantee that he will be judged by an impartial court given the current situation there,” she said.
In a statement, Rwanda’s ambassador to France, Jacques Kabale, said he was “satisfied” with the decision, and insisted his country’s courts could guarantee Muhayimana’s right to a fair trial, the BBC reports.
Hutu militias killed between 800,000 and one million Tutsis and moderate Hutus during the 1994 genocide in Rwanda.
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