In a first of its kind, Sweden is set to extradite a Rwandan man who has been accused of active participation in the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. Sylvere Ahorugeze, a 53-year-old former director of Rwanda‘s civil aviation authority, is to be returned to Rwanda in the coming weeks after the Swedish government decided to grant Rwandan prosecutors their request for extradition.
“Sweden is the first country in Europe to extradite a suspected genocide criminal to Rwanda. This has not been an easy decision,” Justice Minister Beatrice Ask commented. Ahorugeze has been living in Denmark since 2001 as a refugee, but was arrested in July 2008 after being recognised at the Rwandan embassy in Sweden.
The Local reports that Sweden’s Supreme Court ruled on 27 May that Ahorugeze could be sent home because there were no Swedish or EU laws that prevent a genocide suspect from being extradited. Ahorugeze is accused of being one of the main Hutu extremist leaders who was intimately involved in the 1994 genocide.
A number of countries have been hesitant to extradite people to Rwanda fearing they will not get a fair trial or be properly protected. This stance is echoed by most human rights groups. But Rwandan prosecutors hailed Sweden’s decision as proof the judiciary system is gaining a better reputation.
“This decision is a positive development. It is proof that Rwanda now fulfills all the conditions for genocide suspects to be transferred,” Rwandan Justice Minister Tharcisse Karugarama told the AF.