IRIN Update 649 for 4/14/99

IRIN Update 649 for 4/14/99

U N I T E D N A T I O N S Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Integrated Regional Information Network for Central and Eastern Africa

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IRIN Update No. 649 for Central and Eastern Africa (Wednesday 14 April 1999)

RWANDA: Swiss court will not judge suspect for genocide crimes

A Swiss military tribunal has said it is unable to try a former Rwandan mayor on charges of genocide and crimes against humanity, the independent Hirondelle news agency reported on Tuesday. The trial of Fulgence Niyonteze, the former mayor of Mushubati commune in Gitarama prefecture, began in Lausanne on Monday. However the court decided there was no specific provision under Swiss law to judge genocide crimes, although the suspect will be tried for murder, instigation to murder and violating the Geneva conventions. Niyonteze faces a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.

The military prosecutor, Major Claude Nicati, expressed deep disappointment over the decision. "I was under the impression that your tribunal was up to the task," he told the court.

Rwanda meanwhile called for the extradition of Niyonteze. Justice Minister Jean de Dieu Mucyo told Hirondelle the country had had a file on Niyonteze for a long time, but said he was aware that Switzerland was unlikely to turn him over because of the death penalty in Rwanda. However, he hailed the fact that Switzerland had put Niyonteze on trial and hoped other countries, "notably Belgium", would follow suit.

Rwanda demands extradition of genocide suspects in S.Africa

A Rwandan couple, wanted on genocide charges by Kigali, are reportedly working illegally in South Africa, according to the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC). Dr Pierre Mugabo works at the pharmacology department of the University of Western Cape, and his wife, Felicitee Musanganire, is a student nurse at the same establishment. SABC quoted a government official as saying the two had not renewed their work permits since 1997. The Rwandan embassy in South Africa says they are "first category" suspects under Rwanda's genocide law, and has asked for their extradition. In an interview with SABC, Mugabo denied the charges against him.


The DRC authorities have announced an end to the night curfew in Kinshasa. Minister of State for the Interior Gaetan Kakudji made the announcement over state television on Tuesday. "People can now move about freely," he said. "The security forces will patrol, but just to maintain public order." The curfew was imposed in the wake of the rebellion last August.

Concern over detention of NGO activist

Human rights organisations have expressed concern over the detention of a prominent NGO activist in Kinshasa. Badouin Hamuli Kabarhuza, president of the Conseil national des organisations non-gouvernementales de developpement du Congo (CNONGD) was detained earlier this month by the security forces upon his return from a conference in South Africa to discuss the DRC conflict. The DRC authorities, who did not take part in the meeting, accused him of collaborating with the country's enemies. Amnesty International on Tuesday issued an urgent appeal for his release, expressing concern that he is at risk of torture.

The Reseau europeen pour le Congo (REC), a Brussels-based DRC civil society group, described his arrest as "gratuitous harassment". It said civil society was struggling to launch a political dialogue in the country to bring an end to the war, and Hamuli was at the forefront of this campaign.

TANZANIA: No let-up in refugees from DRC

UNHCR says the flow of refugees from eastern DRC shows no sign of abating. Between 22 March and 12 April, 4,409 refugees arrived in Kigoma by boat from the Fizi and Uvira areas. This brings to 48,624 the total number of arrivals since the DRC rebellion began last August. In its latest Great Lakes update, UNHCR quoted the refugees as saying rebels from the Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie (RCD) controlled most parts of South Kivu and Katanga provinces. Many civilians, unable to find passage to Tanzania, are displaced and hiding in the bush, the refugees said. They added that rebels and Mayi-Mayi fighters were looting, raping, burning houses and forcibly recruiting young men.

BURUNDI: Government says refugee camp harbouring rebels

UNHCR also noted that the Burundian government, in a note verbale to the Tanzanian authorities, protested against the attempted infiltration by 500 Burundian rebels in the east of the country late last month. Burundi said the rebels were supported a group in one of the Tanzanian refugee camps.

Nairobi, 14 April 1999, 15:00 gmt


Date: Wed, 14 Apr 1999 18:14:40 +0300 (EAT) From: IRIN - Central and Eastern Africa <> Subject: CENTRAL AND EASTERN AFRICA: IRIN Update 649 for 14 April [19990414]

Editor: Dr. Ali B. Ali-Dinar, Ph.D

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