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Pastor Ntakirutimana transferred to the Tribunal’s custody

Elizaphan Ntakirutimana, former pastor of the Seventh Day Adventist Church in Mugonero, Kibuye Prefecture, who had been arrested in United States on a basis of a warrant issued by the International Criminal for Rwanda (ICTR) was transferred to the United Nations Detention Facility (UNDF) in Arusha yesterday.

After more than three years of legal procedures the American Secretary of State, Ms Madeleine Albright signed the decision authorising Ntakirutimana’s transfer earlier this month. In January the United States Supreme Court had refused certiorari in an appeal lodged by Ntakirutimana against the extradition warrant issued by a Court in Texas. That refusal put an end to the legal procedures before the American Courts.

Elizaphan Ntakirutimana was born in 1924 in Ngoma sector, Gishyita Commune, Kibuye Prefecture. He is charged on the basis of two indictments, which refer to facts alleged to have occurred in Mugonero and at Bisesero. The charges against him include genocide, complicity in genocide, conspiracy to commit genocide, crimes against humanity and breaches of the Geneva Conventions.

The first indictment, dated 17 June 1996, concerns Ntakirutimana and three other accused including his son Gérard who was arrested in Ivory Coast on 29th October 1996 and is currently held in the UNDF. That indictment was confirmed by Judge Khan. The four accused, along with members of the Gendarmerie, the Communal police, militia and civilians are alleged to have taken part in attacks against men, women and children who had sought refuge in the Mugonero complex which includes a hospital, an infirmary and a church.

On 7 September 1996 a second indictment concerning only Ntakirutimana and his son was confirmed by Judge Sekule. According to that indictment the two accused are alleged to have taken part in attacks against men, women and children in the Bisesero area.

Ntakirutimana was arrested on 29 September 1996 however he was released 14 months later and re-arrested on 26 February 1998. He is the first person to be arrested in United States on the basis of an arrest warrant issued by the Tribunal. He is, so far, the only Minister of Religion in the Tribunal’s custody. His initial appearance will take place shortly before one of the three Trial Chambers of the Tribunal.

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