In July 1995, proceedings were instituted against Father Wenceslas Munyeshyaka, a Rwandan citizen, by persons entitled to act on behalf of the victims.
PROCEDURE IN FRANCE
On 25 July 1995, an official investigation was opened up against Munyeshyaka by an investigating judge for “genocide, crimes against humanity and participation in a group already created for, or having as intent the planning of these crimes, on the basis of the principle of universal jurisdiction as provided for by the 1984 New York Convention against Torture”.
On 20 March 1996, the investigation chamber of the Court of appeal in Nîmes (Chambre de l’instruction de la Cour d’appel de Nîmes) pronounced that France did not have jurisdiction over crimes of genocide committed abroad, by a foreigner, against foreigners.
However, soon after the Statute of the ICTR had come into force under French domestic law, French Supreme Court (Cour de Cassation), on 6 January, 1998, ordained that the proceedings instituted in 1995 against Munyeshyaka be reopened.
The case was sent back to the investigation chamber of the Court of appeal in Paris which, on 23 June 1999, extended the scope of competence of the French judge to cover genocide and crimes against humanity.
In September and October 2000, an investigating judge requested that two international rogatory letters be held in Rwanda in order to proceed with the hearing of testimony from around seventy witnesses. By 2004 none of international rogatory letters had been conducted.
The slowness of the proceedings led to France being condemned on 8 June 2004 by the European Court of Human Rights, which had taken up the case in 1999 on the request of Yvonne Mutimura, one of the plaintiffs in the case.
PROCEDURE IN RWANDA
In December 2005, Rwanda announced that an international arrest warrant had been issued against Munyeshyaka.
In October 2006, Munyeshyaka was tried in absentia before the Military Court in Kigali as an accomplice of General Laurent Munyakazi who had been in charge of the security of the city of Kigali during the genocide. The prosecution requested the death sentence against Munyakazi. According to Rwandan law, civilians accused of complicity with members of the army are tried before a military tribunal.
On 16 November 2006, the Military Court sentenced Munyeshyaka in absentia to life imprisonment.
PROCEDURE BEFORE THE ICTR
On 21 June 2007, the ICTR issued arrest warrants against Munyeshyaka and against the former prefect of Gikongoro Laurent Bucyibaruta, who was also exiled in France.
On 20 July 2007, both men were arrested and brought before the office of the State Prosecutor who sent the case to the investigation arm of the Investigation Chamber of the Court of Appeal in Paris. This court ruled that the ICTR arrest warrant was imprecise, especially regarding the French law on the presumption of innocence and therefore ordered the immediate release of both men.
The State prosecutor did not appeal this decision with the result that both men remained under judicial supervision in the framework of the proceedings already opened for “genocide and crimes against humanity”.
The ICTR issued a second revised arrest warrant on 13 August 2007 and the two men were again arrested by the French authorities on 5 September.
On 26 September, The Court of Appeal in Paris requested further information from the ICTR stating that it could not make a decision on the basis of the information provided.
On 20 November 2007, the ICTR decided to decline jurisdiction over this case in favour of the French judicial authorities.
RESUMPTION OF THE PROCEDURE IN FRANCE
On 20 February 2008, the French authorities agreed to try Munyeshyaka and Bucyibaruta in France. Both suspects were arrested, and subsequently released under judicial supervision for the time of the investigation.
On 19 August 2014, it was confirmed in the report by the Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals, that the judicial inquiry into Munyeshyaka, led by France, was in its final phase.
In April 2015, the investigation of the case was completed. On 2 October 2015, the investigating judge ordered the dismissal of the case, in accordance with the Prosecutor’s request. The judge explained that although Munyeshyaka had manifested radical opinions and had maintained friendly relations with the military and militias, this would not suffice to establish his participation to the crimes committed by the militias.
On 8 November 2017, the Investigation Chamber of the Court of Appeal in Paris postponed the appeal hearing following the dismissal of the case issued on 2 October 2015 by the investigative judges to 31st January 2018 in order to review the petitions handed over by the civil parties.
On 21 June 2018, Investigation Chamber of the Court of Appeal in Paris confirmed the dismissal of the case. Civil parties announced their intention to appeal this decision.