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Vincent Murekezi jumped bail in 2008

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Revelations have emerged that the remanded Rwandan genocide suspect, Vincent Murekezi, absconded court appearances on corruption-related charges, jumped bail and sneaked out to Zimbabwe using a Malawi passport in 2008.

A fresh warrant of arrest was executed on Tuesday and Murekezi is expected to continue being remanded at Maula Prison in Lilongwe as Senior Resident Magistrate Patrick Chirwa has nodded to the State’s appeal for 21 days for further discussions with Rwanda’s National Public Prosecution Authority on the genocide charges he is facing in his homeland.

When the court convened on Tuesday, Senior Assistant Chief State Advocate Steven Kayuni said Murekezi was answering criminal case number 91 of 2008 in which he and Komani Nyasulu were answering charges corruption relating to the Malawi Revenue Authority and the Anti-Corruption Bureau.

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“This has led to a warrant of arrest being executed on him this very morning and the Director of Public Prosecutions had to liaise with the Director General of the Anti-Corruption Bureau for the fresh arrest.

“The government of Malawi has an obligation to extradite or prosecute the suspect on genocide charges but considering the international standards on issues of genocide, it is our prayer that the 21 days should be given to the State for it to fully do all the proceedings needed for extradition process. There is also need for a further probe on the matter of corruption and bail abscondment,” Kayuni told the court.

Murekezi’s defence team of Chimwemwe Sikwese and Gift Katundu raised no objection to the request for the adjournment but Sikwese said seven days would have been enough for the State to provide information on genocide charges to the defence.

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Katundu also said it is wrong for the State to bring in the 2008 corruption charges, court appearance, bail abscondment and warrant of arrest at the time the defence has not even applied for bail in the genocide case.

“They are saying that issue happened in 2008, eight years down the line. I think if it was an issue of looking for the suspect, it would have been done at that time not at this time. It has been raised at a wrong time. Just imagine, we have not even applied for bail but they are raising issues which should have even been raised at a time of bail application,” Katundu said.

But Kayuni argued that absconding bail is a serious matter and it cannot be treated lightly as the police had been looking for Murekezi, who also travelled with a different passport to Zimbabwe, and this is an appropriate time for the State to raise the issue with the court.

Kayuni also said genocide is not just a matter for Malawi and seven days would not be enough to get more information from Rwanda which uses civil law jurisdiction while Malawi uses common law jurisdiction.

In his ruling, Chirwa said in his view the 21 days the State asked for were reasonable looking at the complexity of the genocide matter and the provision in the Extradition Act.

He said the State was not wrong to bring in the 2008 matter in the context of the circumstances and the warrant of arrest can be executed at any moment. Chirwa said Murekezi must remain in custody as the State is looking for more information.

Murekezi, who is wanted in Rwanda for his suspected connection to the 1994 genocide which left an estimated almost a million people dead, holds two Malawian passports bearing different surnames of Banda and Murekezi.

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

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