The Referral Chamber of the UN International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) [official website] on Thursday transferred [decision, PDF] the case of Pheneas Munyarugarama [case materials] to the Rwandan authorities. The decision was based on ICTR prosecutors' request two weeks ago for the referral pursuant to Rule 11 bis of the Procedure and Evidence, which authorizes the transfer of cases to appropriate national jurisdictions. The chamber noted that the country made "material changes in its laws and has indicated its capacity and willingness to prosecute cases referred by this Tribunal," giving the international court confidence that the accused will be given a fair trial according to the international fair trial standards. The indictment against Munyarugarama, a former lieutenant colonel in the Rwandan Army, was confirmed on June 13 for his alleged war crimes committed during the 1994 Rwandan genocide [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive]. With the decision, the referral chamber requested that the Rwandan government report to the ICTR or the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals on a regular basis until Munyarugarama is apprehended or dead. The transfer of the case to Rwandan jurisdiction will take place within 30 days after the decision becomes final.
Munyarugama's case is one of the several cases that have been recently transferred from the ICTR to the country's national court system. On Monday, the ICTR transferred the case of Aloys Ndimbati [case materials], a former local government official charged with genocide, complicity in genocide, incitement to commit genocide, and crimes against humanity including murder, rape, and persecution, to the country's authorities. Earlier this month, the ICTR transferred [JURIST report] the fifth case related to the 1994 genocide to the national court. Bernard Munyagishari [case materials] was charged [indictment, PDF] with conspiracy to commit genocide, genocide, complicity in genocide, murder and rape after he was arrested [JURIST report] in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) in May last year. In May, the case of Ladislas Ntaganzwa [case materials], a former mayor of Nyakizu commune in Butare who has been charged [indictment, PDF] with conspiracy to commit genocide, genocide, complicity in genocide, direct and public incitement to commit genocide, crimes against humanity and violations of the Geneva Conventions, was transferred [JURIST report] to Rwanda. In March, the case of Charles Sikubwabo [Hague Justice profile; case materials] was transferred [JURIST report] to the High Court of Rwanda upon the prosecutors' request [press release; JURIST report] for the referral. It was the last of the three cases that were included in the November 2010 application and transferred to the Rwanda government. The first case ever transferred to Rwanda from the ICTR was that of Rwandan pastor Jean-Bosco Uwinkindi [Hague Justice profile; case materials] which was transferred [JURIST report] to the national court system in June. Uwinkindi was charged with genocide and crimes against humanity relating to the 1994 Rwandan genocide. The decision came after the referral chamber found that Rwanda was capable of pursuing the case. In February, the referral chamber transferred [JURIST report] the second case of Fulgence Kayishema [Hague Justice profile; case material] who has been charged with genocide, complicity in genocide, conspiracy to commit genocide and crime against humanity.