[JURIST] The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda [official website; JURIST news archive] Friday refused to move [ruling, PDF] the trial of suspected war criminal Ildephonse Hategekimana [TrialWatch profile] to the Rwandan domestic courts. The request had been made by the prosecutor's office and the Rwandan government, but was objected to by Hategekimana's defense and human rights groups filing amicus briefs on his behalf. According to Rule 11 [backgrounder] of the ICTR Rules of Procedure and Evidence [PDF text], the court may refer a case to another court with jurisdiction over the accused provided that the host country is willing and prepared to accept them, they can receive a fair trial, and they will not face the death penalty or other overly-harsh punishments upon conviction. Refusing the request, the Court wrote:
The Chamber notes that Rwanda has made significant progress in rebuilding to its criminal justice system, which was crippled as a result of the events of 1994. Nonetheless, some obstacles to referral of Mr. Hategekimana's case remain. The Chamber:AFP has more.
(i) is not satisfied that Rwanda's legal framework criminalizes command responsibility;
(ii) is not satisfied that Rwanda can ensure Mr. Hategekimana's right to obtain the attendance and examination of witness on his behalf under the same conditions as the witnesses against him; and
(iii) considers it possible that, pursuant to Rwandan law, Mr. Hategekimana may face life imprisonment in isolation without adequate safeguards in violation of his right not to be subjected to cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment.
According to the indictment against Hategekimana [PDF text], he served as a lieutenant in the Rwandan army during the country's bloody genocide [HRW backgrounder] in the mid 1990s. He specifically accused of ordering or aiding in the massacre of civilian Tutsis in the Rwandan town of Butare. Earlier this month, the ICTR refused to refer [JURIST report] the case of another genocide suspect, Gaspard Kanyarukiga [TrialWatch profile], to the Rwandan courts, citing similar justifications.