Munyeshyaka, Wenceslas (ICTR)

Wenceslas Munyeshyaka was a Rwandan priest at the Sainte-Famille parish in Kigali, accused of acts including the selection of Tutsis to be killed and raping several women. After fleeing Rwanda, Munyeshyaka moved to France where he continued work as a priest.

In 1995 a complaint was submitted by genocide survivors alleging that Munyeshyaka was complicit in torture and inhuman or degrading treatment during the genocide. An official investigation was opened by the French authorities and Munyeshyaka was arrested under rules of Universal Jurisdiction on 28 July 1995, charged with genocide, complicity in genocide, torture, ill-treatment and inhuman and degrading acts. He was however released in August 1995, and in March 1996 the Nimes Appeals Court ruled that France did not have competency to judge the crime of genocide committed abroad by a foreign national against other foreign nationals.

On 1 January 1998 after the Statute of the ICTR came into force under French law, the Cour de Cassation ordered that the 1995 proceedings against Munyeshyaka be reopened, judging that the Nimes Appeals Court had erred by only considering the competency of French courts to judge the crime of genocide. The case was sent back to the Paris Appeals Court, and an investigation opened. The tardiness of the nine-year investigation was condemned by the European Court of Human Rights in June 2004, which unanimously decided that French courts had violated the rights of Yvonne Mutimura to be heard promptly and her right to compensation.

On 16 November 2006, Munyeshyaka was sentenced in absentia to life imprisonment by a Rwandan Military Court in Kigali.

Following the unsealing of an arrest warrant on 21 June 2007 by the ICTR, Munyeshyaka was arrested in France in July 2007, having already been under investigation after another complaint was brought by victims in 2000. The ICTR requested that Munyeshyaka be detained pending the decision on a Motion filed in June 2007 at the ICTR to transfer the case to France, but on 1 August 2007 the Paris Court of Appeals ruled that the arrest warrant was invalid and ordered Munyeshyaka’s immediate release. After a second warrant was issued later the same month, Munyeshyaka was once against arrested in September 2007. On 20 November 2007, the ICTR granted the motion to refer the case to the French authorities, which the French judiciary accepted in February 2008. As yet there has been little further progress in the proceedings before French courts.

Munyeshyaka case on the DomCLIC Project

Research/ miscellaneous (Research Document)
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