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Rwanda genocide suspect extradition starts Tuesday

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The office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) has said when Rwandan genocide suspect, Vincent Murekezi, matter starts in court on Tuesday next week, government will commence the extradition process on behalf of the Rwandan government pursuant to the existing extradition laws.

Murekezi, who is currently on remand at Maula prison in Lilongwe, is wanted in his home country for his suspected connection to the 1994 genocide which left an estimated over 800,000 people dead.

Senior Assistant Chief State Advocate, Steven Kayuni, said the Malawi government through the diplomatic channels received a request for the extradition of the suspect and has a duty to cooperate with the government of Rwanda on the issue considering the cooperation arrangements between the two countries.

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The state will have to bring before court the government of Rwanda’s request for extradition.

“Thus, when the matter commences on Tuesday, the 13th December, 2016, the Malawi government will commence the extradition process on behalf of the Rwandan government and pursuant to our extradition laws.

“The court process today [Thursday] was to inform the suspect of the reasons for his arrest and as well as court order for remand. The extradition request proceedings is not a case per se but a process that necessitates the transfer or surrender of the suspect from the requested state (Malawi) to the requesting state (Rwanda),” Kayuni said in an emailed response.

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He, however, said extraditions can be complicated and can be tedious as well especially when the suspect decides to defend the application.

“If he were to voluntarily agree to the surrender, it would have been very straight forward. It is for the court to make the order later and he has the right to appeal against such a decision so in actual sense this takes a while unless the suspect decides otherwise,” he said.

Murekezi holds two Malawian passports bearing different surnames of Banda and Murekezi.

The Rwandan government says the court already convicted Murekezi of war crimes and sentenced him to life imprisonment in absentia.

How things closed in on Murekezi

In September 2009, Rwanda’s former prosecutor general, Martin Ngoga, requested the Malawi Government to arrest and extradite Murekezi. Malawi did not respond.

In November 2016, The Daily Times exposed Murekezi. In the story, the paper also detailed how he acquired a Malawian passport and has been using it for the past five years. Murekezi confirmed his identity and his being named on the wanted list of persons involved in the 1994 genocide in Rwanda but described the allegations as “lies and rubbish”.

In response to The Daily Times story, some concerned Malawians hire lawyer Oswald Mtupila to take the matter up with the courts.

The concerned citizens give the government a 48- hour ultimatum to act or face what they call civil disobedience. The citizens make their case in a petition to Speaker of Parliament through the Parliamentary Committee on Defence and Security yesterday. In the petition, the citizens also demand the immediate suspension, investigation and prosecution of all officers who were involved in the issuance of two Malawian passports and citizenship to Murekezi.

The petitioners disclose that an international warrant of arrest number RPGR 450/GEN/MJD/ RE from the Rwanda’s National Public Prosecution Authority, the Gacaca Court of Tumba Sector in that country’s Southern Province convicted Murekezi of war crimes.

The petitioners also allege that Murekezi applied for a gun licence at the Malawi National Police Headquarters and his application was not approved but currently he has a gun with a licence which, according to them, is shocking and disheartening news.

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