The Referral Chamber of the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda on 6 June 2012 transferred to the authorities of the Republic of Rwanda the case of Bernard Munyagishari, former President of Interahamwe in Gisenyi prefecture. Munyagishari is charged with Conspiracy to Commit Genocide, Genocide, Complicity in Genocide, Murder and Rape as Crimes against Humanity.
This is the fifth transfer to Rwanda by the ICTR Referral Chamber following those made in the cases of Ladislas Ntagazwa, Jean Bosco Uwinkindi, Fulgence Kayishema, and Charles Sikubwabo. If the case reaches the Appeals Chamber and the transfer is affirmed it will be the second accused person in ICTR’s custody after Uwinkindi, to be transferred to Rwanda for trial.
In its ruling the Referral Chamber composed of Judges Lee Gacuiga Muthoga, Presiding, Seon Ki Park and Gberdao Gustave Kam transferred the case to the Rwanda authorities, so that those authorities should forthwith refer the case to the High Court of Rwanda for an expeditious trial. The transfer, however, is subject to, among others, a guarantee by the President of the Kigali Bar Association to the President of the ICTR or the Residual Mechanism, that the Accused should remain indigent and will be assigned a lawyer with previous international experience.
It also requests the appointment of an independent organization as monitor either instead of, or in addition to, the ICTR legal staff who are currently acting as the Tribunal’s monitors before or as soon as practicable after the transfer of the Accused to Rwanda.
The Referral Chamber further requests Rwanda to provide the Defense team with access to persons, locations and documents throughout the territory of Rwanda as may be needed for the effective conduct of the Defense case.
The Referral Chamber ordered that the referral, however, will be suspended until the expiry of the statutory period of Appeal and thereafter will be subject to the final appellate decision of the ICTR Appeals Chamber should any appeal(s) be filed.
In its indictment the Prosecution alleges that Munyagishari recruited, trained and led Interahamwe militiamen in mass killings and rapes of Tutsi women in Gisenyi prefecture and beyond between April and July 1994.
Munyagishari was on 25 May 2011 arrested in the Democratic Republic of Congo (“DRC”). He was transferred to the United Nations Detention Facility in Arusha on 14 June 2011. He made his initial appearance on 20 June 2011 and pleaded not guilty to all charges.