Genocide Accused to Be Extradited by Norway to Rwanda

Last week was a Rwandan citizen living in Norway was sentenced to 21 years imprisonment by the Oslo District court for participating in the genocide. Then the Norwegian government has decided to send the genocide accused Charles Bandora to Rwanda so that he will face trial in his homeland. This is the first time Norway extradites to the country. Therefore, this is also a milestone in the pursuit after the genocide in Rwanda, from Norway standpoint, says State Secretary in the Ministry of Justice, Paul Lønseth.

Jean-Bosco Siboyintore, leading the hunt for those who were behind the genocide in 1994, welcomes Norway’s decision. – There is a good deal for both countries in terms of extradition of suspects in cases of genocide, he said to TV 2

On the other hand, Bandora thinks it’s impossible to get a fair trial in his home country. Now he is afraid whether he can face a fair trial in Rwanda and asks Norway not to send him back out of Norway, according to TV2.

As a response to Bandora’s and other European countries’ concerns, Siboyintore states that his country has taken many steps in recent years to improve the judical system for a fair trial. 

Many have hesitated to extradite to Rwanda. Norway is the first European country, and now he hopes that others will follow.

About the Case

Charles Bandora, according to the indictment, has participated in mass murder, both as organizer and as hangman, during the Rwanda genocide in 1994. Until his arrest he operated businesses in Malawi. During 1994 he was also a high-ranking member of National Republican Movement for Democracy and Development (MRND) party in Bugesera, Rwanda.

Bandora is accused of having facilitated the Interahamwe in the mass killings of Tutsis in 1994 by training and arming militiamen and personally supervising massacres in the Bugesera region. The militiamen he trained are alleged to have travelled in bands with machetes and small arms, in open trucks, killing people with extreme efficiency (10,000 people each day, 7 people each minute).

In particular, Bandora is accused of having ordered the killing of 400 Tutsis who had sought refuge at Ruhuha church between 7-13 April 1994. Specifically, Bandora is accused of the killing of Ezekiel Mugenzi, looting his property and looting that of Gratien Murangira.

Bandora was arrested on June 8 last year as he tried to enter Oslo Airport with fake identity, posing as Frank Kamwana, a Malawian national.

About Rwandan Genocide

The Rwandan Genocide was a genocidal mass slaughter that took place in 1994 in the East African state of Rwanda. Over the course of approximately 100 days, over 500,000 people were killed, according to a Human Rights Watch estimate. Estimates of the death toll have ranged from 500,000–1,000,000, or as much as 20% of the country’s total population. It was the culmination of longstanding ethnic competition and tensions between the minority Tutsi, who had controlled power for centuries, and the majority Hutu peoples, who had come to power in the rebellion of 1959–62.

In 1990, the Rwandan Patriotic Front, a rebel group composed mostly of Tutsi refugees, invaded northern Rwanda from Uganda in an attempt to defeat the Hutu-led government. They began the Rwandan Civil War, fought between the Hutu regime, with support from Francophone Africa and France, and the RPF, with support from Uganda. This exacerbated ethnic tensions in the country. In response, many Hutu gravitated toward the Hutu Power ideology, with the prompting of state-controlled and independent Rwandan media.

As an ideology, Hutu Power asserted that the Tutsi intended to enslave the Hutu and must be resisted at all costs. Continuing ethnic strife resulted in the rebels’ displacing large numbers of Hutu in the north, plus periodic localized Hutu killings of Tutsi in the south. International pressure on the Hutu-led government of Juvénal Habyarimana resulted in a cease-fire in 1993. He planned to implement the Arusha Accords.

The assassination of Habyarimana in April 1994 set off a violent reaction, during which Hutu groups conducted mass killings of Tutsis (and also pro-peace Hutus, who were portrayed as “traitors” and “collaborators”). This genocide had been planned by members of the Hutu power group known as the Akazu, many of whom occupied positions at top levels of the national government; the genocide was supported and coordinated by the national government as well as by local military and civil officials and mass media. Alongside the military, primary responsibility for the killings themselves rests with two Hutu militias that had been organized for this purpose by political parties: the Interahamwe and Impuzamugambi, although once the genocide was underway a great number of Hutu civilians took part in the murders. It was the end of the peace agreement. The Tutsi RPF restarted their offensive, defeating the army and seizing control of the country.

Rwanda today has two public holidays commemorating the incident, with Genocide Memorial Day on April 7th marking the start, and Liberation Day on July 4th marking the end. The week following April 7th is designated an official week of mourning.

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