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Cablegate: Transfer of Genocide Suspects to Rwanda - Uk

VZCZCXYZ0004
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHLGB #0422/01 1701403
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 181403Z JUN 08
FM AMEMBASSY KIGALI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 5390
INFO RUEHBS/AMEMBASSY BRUSSELS 0244
RUEHJB/AMEMBASSY BUJUMBURA 0332
RUEHDR/AMEMBASSY DAR ES SALAAM 1147
RUEHKM/AMEMBASSY KAMPALA 1915
RUEHKI/AMEMBASSY KINSHASA 0467
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON 0250
RUEHNR/AMEMBASSY NAIROBI 1243
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 0511

UNCLAS KIGALI 000422

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV PHUM RW
SUBJECT: TRANSFER OF GENOCIDE SUSPECTS TO RWANDA - UK
"YES," ICTR "NOT YET"

REF: A. KIGALI 369

B. KIGALI 380
C. KIGALI 415

1. (SBU) Summary. Rwanda has received three different
judicial evaluations recently of its capacity to try 1994
genocide suspects returned from abroad. A British district
judge most recently ruled in favor of the extradition of four
individuals to Rwanda for trial, citing sufficient judicial
independence and legal protections. Two ICTR rulings
differed in their treatment of Rwandan judicial failings, but
welcomed futher progress by Rwanda that might justify a later
transfer of suspects. While pleased with the British
decision, the ICTR rulings dented Rwanda's claims to being
fully prepared for case transfers of genocide suspects. Each
decision will likely be appealed. End summary.

2. (SBU) Local reaction to the British decision was quite
enthusiastic. The judge decided that the charges brought
against the four were not ethnically motivated, and that the
2007 Rwandan Organic Law on the transfer of cases from the
ICTR provided enough legal support and protection for
potential witnesses and the suspects for their extradition.
Noting the lack of a extradition treaty, the judge found a
Memorandum of Understanding between the two governments
sufficient for transfer. The British judge did not spare
criticism of the Government of Rwanda (GOR) in his ruling,
noting there was "fundamental agreement" that the GOR is "not
a democracy, but an authoritarian state," where freedom of
the press is lacking. However, he rejected arguments that a
"culture of interference attempts" by government officials in
the past, and recent "intemperate language" by GOR officials
on the Spanish indictments constituted a lack of judicial
independence which would prevent extradition.

3. (SBU) In his ruling (note: unofficial copy obtained
locally by the embassy), the British judge also brusquely
dismissed testimony from "expert" defense witnesses and vocal
GOR critics including "Hotel Rwanda" subject Paul
Rusesabagina and Dutch academic Filip Reyntjens, questioning
their expertise and knowledge of Rwanda and its judicial
system as they exist today. The judge called some of
Rusesabagina's claims, including placing the blame for the
genocide on members of the Rwandan Patriotic Army (RPA) and
of RPA participation in killings at genocide roadblocks,
"worthless, wild, and exaggerated." The pro-government New
Times seized on this portion of the decision, printing it in
its entirety under the headline, "How a UK judge exposed and
shamed Paul Rusesabagina."

4. (SBU) Reaction to the ICTR decisions was more muted. In
the first ICTR panel decision, judges cited GOR condemnation
of the Spanish indictment of 40 senior Rwandan military
officials (ref A) as evidence of its antipathy to judicial
independence (ref B). The panel also cited witness
protection problems and technical sentencing issues regarding
possible life sentences with solitary confinement as reasons
for denial of transfer. A second ICTR panel days later ruled
against the transfer of another genocide suspect for similar
witness protection concerns and technical sentencing issues
regarding solitary confinement. However, the second ICTR
panel examined but rejected the notion of a lack of judicial
independence in Rwanda, and in fact commended GOR progress in
Qindependence in Rwanda, and in fact commended GOR progress in
the judicial sector. The two ICTR decisions explicitly
invited further progress and reforms by the GOR.

5. (SBU) Comment: The jury is still out on whether the
international community will ultimately accept the transfer
of genocide cases to Rwanda. While the GOR is certainly
pleased with the UK decision supporting extradition (and also
rubbishing two principal opposition critics), the ICTR
decisions have dented its claims to be fully prepared for the
return of principal genocide suspects. As noted in ref C,
the recent GOR indictment and arrest of four RPA officers for
revenge killings in the 1994 tragedy may not be a
coincidence, as Rwanda seeks to convince the world that
Rwanda will seek justice and render it fairly. End comment.
WELLER

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