Mr .Esdras Twagirimana, who had been arrested by the Kenyan authorities during the Tribunal's Operation "NAKI" of 17 July 1997, due to a case of mistaken identity, and had been residing at the Tribunal's Facility in Arusha, was today (Saturday 20 September 1997), returned to Nairobi, Kenya at his request.
During Operation "NAKI", which was initiated by the ICTR Prosecutor and resulted in the arrest of seven persons suspected of having participated in the genocide in Rwanda in 1994, Mr. Esdras Twagirimana was mistaken for Mr. Arsene Shalom Ntahobali, who was then the subject of a warrant of arrest issued by the Tribunal, and who indeed was subsequently arrested.
After some investigation, confirming that the Office the Prosecutor had no pending charges against him, Mr. Twagirimanawas informed of the case of mistaken identity and of his right to be returned immediately to Kenya, his former place of residence. He, however, made an ardent plea to stay temporarily at the Tribunal's detention facility, arguing that he was greatly concerned at the consequences to himself of a return to Kenya, given the mass arrests which were then taking place of illegal immigrants, including a large number of his compatriots.
During his stay in Arusha, and at his request, contacts were then made with the Tanzanian and Kenyan authorities to explore the possibility of regularizing his stay in either country by granting him refugee status. The assistance and cooperation of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Dar es Salaam and Nairobi were also solicited in this connection.
Mr. Twagirimana was kept fully informed at every stage of this process. He recently insisted to the Tribunal that he no longer wished to remain in Arusha and wished to return to Nairobi. Based on this request, the Registry was able to make appropriate arrangements for Mr. Twagirimana's return to Nairobi, which took place this morning.