Clothes of victims of the Tutsi genocide stored in Gatwaro Genocide Memorial in Kibuye, western province of Rwanda, on December 1, 2020.
Rwanda’s main genocide survivor group on Tuesday welcomed the extradition of a top fugitive to stand trial over the 1994 killings as a “step in the right direction” for justice.
Prosecutors in Kigali said that Venant Rutunga, a 72-year-old genocide suspect, was flown late Monday from the Netherlands to Rwanda where he is accused of directing massacres over a quarter century ago.
Rutunga, an agricultural scientist, headed a government research institute in Rwanda’s south at the time of the genocide and allegedly mobilised soldiers to kill Tutsis in his department and surrounding area.
“Every time a top genocide fugitive is extradited, it is a step in the right direction for justice,” Naphtali Ahishakiye, executive secretary of the Ibuka survivors’ association, told AFP.
“It has taken decades but we welcome the extradition of Venant Rutunga to Rwanda, who was responsible for the murder of many Tutsi he worked with and lived with in his home area.”
Rutunga was detained by the Dutch authorities in 2019 after Rwanda issued a warrant for his arrest and extradition some years earlier.
Dutch courts rejected his appeal against being returned to Rwanda for trial.
Rutunga becomes the third genocide suspect to be extradited from the Netherlands after Jean Baptiste Mugimba and Jean Claude Iyamuremye returned to stand trial in 2016.
Rwanda’s National Public Prosecution Authority thanked Dutch authorities for their “continued cooperation in matters of mutual legal assistance and contribution to global efforts to fight impunity”.
Some 800,000 mainly Tutsi people were beaten, hacked or shot to death in the genocide, a roughly 100-day killing spree carried out mostly by Hutu forces.