Charles Bandora was arrested in Malawi (reports differ as to the date: 7 or 20 January 2010) by the Criminal Intelligence Department for his alleged role in the Rwandan genocide.
He was arrested three weeks after a visit to Malawi by Rwanda’s chief prosecutor Martin Ngoga. In November 2009, Ngoga blamed Malawi, Mozambique and Zambia for “doing nothing” to arrest Rwandan fugitives in their countries. Other Rwandan fugitives are believed to be in Malawi. However, Bandora was released in unclear circumstances, believed to involve an approach to the Malawian authorities by Zimbabwean officials. Bandora was reported to have subsequently gone to Zimbabwe.
In May 2010, Bandora was arrested at Zavantem airport as he tried to enter Belgium but then released. It is unclear on what grounds Bandora was released by Belgium, where Bandora appears to have attempted to claim asylum. Bandora is reported to have children living in Belgium. The Norwegian press has reported that Bandora was said by Belgium that he had to seek asylum in Norway and not in Belgium, because of the Norwegian Schengen stamp in the Malawian passport on which he was travelling and/or because he had travelled through Norway on his way to Belgium, pursuant to the European Directive on the procedure to grant refugee status. The Rwandan prosecution spokesman is reported to have requested the Belgian authorities to extradite Bandora to Rwanda. From current press reports it appears that Belgium handled Bandora as an asylum case only and did not examine the charges as per the Interpol warrant.
Bandora was arrested in Norway at the airport on 9 June 2010 on suspicion of travelling under a fake passport. Reports differ as to it being Malian or Malawian, but on the facts it appears more likely that it was Malawian. Bandora is reported to have sought asylum in Norway. Bandora denies the charges and claims he was the victim of persecution in Rwanda in 1994. He was scheduled to appear in court on 10 June 2010 in the context of the Interpol warrant and a Rwandan extradition request. Norway is currently investigating his identity with Bandora on 4 weeks’ remand.
On 11 July 2011 the Oslo Tribunal accepted the request for extradition forwarded by Rwandan Authorities against Bandora. He appealed such decision, claiming that he would not benefit from a fair trial in Rwanda, and asking to be instead tried in Norway or in another European country. On 22 November 2011 the Norwegian Supreme Court dismissed Bandora’s appeal.
Bandora appealed this decision before the European Court of Human Rights. The ECHR rejected his appeal on March 2013.
On 10 March 2013, Bandora was extradited from Norway to Rwanda. He is the first genocide fugitive to be extradited to Rwanda.
The trial hearings began on 22 September 2014 in Kigali.
Bandora is charged with genocide, extermination, conspiracy to commit killing, formation of a criminal organisation and murder as a crime against humanity.
According to the prosecution, Bandora was one of the top local leaders of the former presidential party MRND, he was so influential in the former Ngenda commune that the mayor, soldiers and police as well as the Interahamwe militia obeyed his orders.
Bandora pleaded not guilty. His defence lawyers argue that the prosecution crafted six charges out of one allegation, since all evidence presented to the Court points only to Genocide.
Bandora was sentenced by the High Court of Kigali, Rwanda, on 15 May 2015 to 30 years of imprisonment for involvement in the 1994 Rwandan genocide. The court held that Bandora was guilty of conspiracy, genocide and murders as crimes against humanity.
The court highlighted that the prosecution did not manage to prove all charges because some contradictions still subsisted in the testimonies gathered before the court.
The court also observed that there was no evidence proving that Bandora had played a role in the massacre of the genocide victims in the Ruhuha parish.
The court indicated that Bandora’s sentence was reduced because he cooperated during the proceedings.
When the verdict was announced, Bandora declared that he would appeal his sentencing.