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Rwandan genocide suspect Charles Ndereyehe: Arrested, then released

By Honoré Banda
Posted on Monday, 14 September 2020 15:31

Rwanda Genocide 25th Anniversary
Family photographs of some of the infants and children who died hang on display in an exhibition at the Kigali Genocide Memorial centre in the capital Kigali, Rwanda Friday, April 5, 2019. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)

For the past 10 years, Kigali has sought to extradite Charles Ndereyehe, who is suspected of playing a role in the Tutsi genocide. After being arrested in the Netherlands on 8 September, he was unexpectedly released.

Will Charles Ndereyehe be extradited to Kigali? A final showdown is under way between the legal team of the Rwandan national, who is suspected of playing a role in the Tutsi genocide, and the Dutch courts.

On 8 September, Ndereyehe, alias Karoli, was arrested in the Netherlands, where he has lived since 1997. According to our sources, his arrest came about after he lost his Dutch citizenship, which he had obtained in 2003.

However, his lawyer Marq Wijngaarden has mounted a counterattack by producing a document in which his client challenges his deprivation of citizenship. In an unexpected turn of events, the Rwandan national was ultimately released pending the outcome of his appeal.

Sentenced in absentia

For several years now, Kigali – which issued a warrant for Ndereyehe’s arrest on 20 April 2010 – has been calling for these deprivation of citizenship proceedings, as they are the only route to his extradition.

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The Rwandan authorities primarily allege that he took part in massacres carried out at the Rwanda Agricultural Research Institute (ISAR), of which he had become director general of in 1993. On 26 April 1994, “more than 300 people were killed under his orders”, according to the National Commission for the Fight against Genocide (CNLG).

Said to be a former member of the Coalition for the Defence of the Republic (CDR), an extremist Hutu party created in 1992, he fled to Zaire after the genocide and eventually went on to the Netherlands. He continues to be an active member of FDU-Inkingi, which the opposition leader Victoire Ingabire headed for a long time before founding a new party, DALFA.

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In November 2008, Ndereyehe was sentenced in absentia to a life term in prison by a Gacaca court (a Rwandan system of community justice).

Dutch authorities conduct investigation

After the Rwandan courts revived the proceedings in 2018 via a new request for arrest, the Dutch courts undertook, in cooperation with the Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND), to verify the allegations contained in the warrant. According to our sources, these efforts made it possible to notify Ndereyehe of his deprivation of citizenship six weeks ago.

Given that the deadline for him to appeal this decision expired on 8 September, the Dutch courts moved forward with his arrest, although Wijngaarden later obtained his release.

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