Claude Muhayimana

27.04.2016 ( Last modified: 08.05.2019 )
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Facts

Claude Muhayimana was born in 1961 and is a French citizen of Rwandan origin. He obtained French citizenship in 2010. He lives in Rouen, France.

Muhayimana is alleged to have driven Hutu militias to several attacks places, while he was the driver of the Kibuye Guest house. He was allegedly involved in the attack of the Nyamishaba school (Kibuye district) in April 1994 and in the massacres of Tutsi civilians who had found refuge in Karongi, Gitwa et Bisesero, between April and June 1994.

He is also accused of having participated in killings carried out in the Kibuye church on the 17 April 1994, and the following day in the Gatwaro stadium. Both massacres resulted in the death of thousands of victims.

Legal Procedure

On 13 December 2011, the Rwandan judicial authorities issued an international arrest warrant against Claude Muhayimana for his alleged participation in the Rwandan genocide. In addition, the Rwandan authorities requested his extradition from France.

On 29 March 2012, the investigative Chamber of the Rouen Appeal Court issued a favorable opinion for Muhayimana’s extradition to Rwanda. The Court considered that the fundamental guarantees of a fair trial and the rights of the defense would be ensured in Rwanda. Muhayimana appealed this decision arguing he would not get a fair trial in Rwanda. Finally, on 26 February 2014, the French Supreme Court (Cour de Cassation) ruled that Muhayimana could not be extradited because Rwanda’s application was based on laws passed after the alleged crimes took place.

On 9 April 2014, Muhayimana was arrested in Rouen following a complaint filed in June 2013 by the Collectif des Parties Civiles pour le Rwanda CPCR (CPCR). A criminal investigation was launched regarding his alleged role in the genocide committed in the district of Kibuye, and he was placed in pre-trial detention. On 3 April 2015, he was released and placed under judicial control.

On 9 November 2017, the investigative judge referred the case to the Paris Criminal Trial Court (Cour d’Assises) for complicity of genocide and crimes against humanity through aiding and abetting. Muhayimana will be judged for his alleged participation in the Nyamishaba school attack, as well as for the massacres of Karongi, Gitwa and Bisesero between April and June 1994. The Prosecutor called for the dismissal of the accusations regarding the massacres committed in the Kibuye church and in the Gatwaro stadium, as Muhayimana presented an alibi proving he was not there during the events.

Muhayimana appealed the decision of referral.

The hearing of appeal against the decision of referral took place on 18 October 2018 before the Investigation Chamber of the Court of Appeal of Paris.

On 4 April 2019, the Court of Appeal confirmed the referral before the Criminal Trial Court for complicity in crimes against humanity and genocide. Muhayimana has announced his intention to lodge an appeal with the Court of Cassation.

Context

Rwanda has been historically inhabited by three distinct social groups, known as Hutu, Tutsi and Twa. Between April and July 1994 the country was torn apart by a bloody genocide, during which extremist Hutu people targeted Tutsis and moderate Hutus. The United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda (UNAMIR) was powerless against those committing the genocide, as the peacekeeping troops were outnumbered.

THE INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL TRIBUNAL FOR RWANDA (ICTR)

In hopes of facilitating the process of national reconciliation and to promote peace in the country, on 8 November 1994 the United Nations Security Council adopted Resolution 955, establishing the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), located in Arusha, Tanzania.

The Tribunal’s function was to prosecute perpetrators of crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes committed between 1 January and 31 December 1994 in Rwanda. 93 persons have been indicted in front of the ICTR.

The ICTR was dissolved on 31 December 2015.

The UN Security Council established the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (or “the Mechanism”), in Resolution 1966 (2010), to take over the remaining functions of both the ICTR and the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY). The Mechanism, which has been functioning since 1 July 2012, has already taken over some of the ongoing functions of the ICTR, including the enforcement of sentences of those convicted and sentenced by the Tribunal, the tracking, arrest and prosecution of fugitives earmarked for trial at the Mechanism, and the care and protection of witnesses.

THE GACACA COURTS

In 1998, discussions began under the direction of the President of the Republic of Rwanda about the possible use of traditional courts to support the ordinary Rwandan judicial system and the ICTR. A commission was created to study this possibility, and its report provided the basis of the Organic Law of 26 January 2001, which created the Gacaca Courts.

These courts were in charge of trying the low and middle-level perpetrators of the genocide, apart from the “planners” who should have been tried before national courts. The Gacaca courts were composed of elected popular assemblies, made up of non-professional judges. The composition and functioning of such courts raised several concerns about the respect of fair trial guarantees.

According to Rwandan authorities, during their functioning, the Gacaca courts tried almost two million people. On 18 June 2012 Rwandan President Paul Kagame announced the official end of Gacaca courts’ activity.