Rwandan 'can't be tried in Denmark'

2011-10-26 20:52

Copenhagen - A Copenhagen appeals court ruled Monday that Denmark's law on genocide cannot be used to prosecute a Rwandan man charged with killing Tutsis during the 1994 genocide and dismissed his case.

"The wording of the [1955] law does not provide a basis to assume that the intention was to give the law extraterritorial jurisdiction," a statement from the Eastern High Court of Appeal said.

The court also pointed out that the United Nations' convention on genocide does not oblige countries to prosecute genocide carried out outside their national territories.

"This case against the accused is therefore dismissed," the court said, adding though that "the accused is still on remand based on the subsidiary charge" of murder.

The ruling was in line with a general lower court ruling in June stating that non-Danes could not be tried in Denmark for genocide committed abroad.

Nonetheless, a Danish prosecutor last month charged the 49-year-old Rwandan man, a former headmaster, with genocide.

He is accused of killing an unknown number of people after throwing grenades into a crowd of desperate refugees as they tried to flee Kabuye Hill, where up to 20 000 Tutsis were murdered after being sent to the area by government troops.

The accused, whose name was not given, had also been responsible for two road blocks, and the prosecutor insisted at the initial hearing that "many Tutsis were killed here on the orders of the accused."

While dropping the genocide charges, the court ruled that the accused should remain in custody on charges of murder.

It remained unclear when his murder trial would be held.

The suspect arrived in Denmark in 2001 and lived in Roskilde, 30km from Copenhagen, the prosecutor said when the man was remanded in custody in December 2010.

He was handed a life sentence in absentia in Rwanda in 2008, according to the Ritzau news agency.

An estimated 800 000 people, for the most part minority Tutsis, were killed in the 1994 bloodletting by extremist Hutus.