The Wenceslas Munyeshyaka case dismissed — The victims deserve a trial!

06/10/2015
Press release
en fr

(Paris) FIDH and LDH express their deep disappointment at the announcement of the dismissal on October 2nd of the case against Wenceslas Munyeshyaka, a Rwandan priest on trial before the French courts since 1995 for his alleged participation in the Tutsis genocide in Rwanda.

“We are going to appeal this decision because in our opinion the evidence in the case fully warrants Wenceslas Munyeshyaka being referred to a criminal court.”
Emmanuel Daoud, FIDH counsel

A judicial investigation began shortly after a complaint was lodged in July 1995 by Rwandan victims, who had sought refuge in France, and who had been informed of the presence of Father Wenceslas Munyeshyaka in the vicinity of Privas. Wenceslas Munyeshyaka was charged with genocide, crimes against humanity and acts of torture and barbaric acts.

“This is the oldest case concerning the genocide of the Tutsis in Rwanda before the French courts… 20 years of proceedings ending in a dismissal is something the victims and our organisations (parties civiles), who have awaited for this trial since 1995, fail to understand.”
Patrick Baudouin, lawyer and FIDH Honorary President

Many have borne witness to the fact that when he was officiating in the Church of the Holy Family in Kigali, he participated in the genocide, notably by handing over Tutsi refugees to the militia and by clearly colluding with the genocidal authorities.

The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), which had indicted the priest in 2005, finally decided to refer the case to the French courts, encouraged by the commitment of the Minister of Justice at the time.

On the occasion of a recent visit to France, Hassan Bubacar Jallow, ICTR Prosecutor, told FIDH that if the case was dismissed, he contemplated asking ICTR to repatriate the case to ICTR, in order to be able to try Wenceslas Munyeshyaka.

Since 1995, there have been many occurences of the examination of the case being at a standstill, to such a degree that in June 2004 France was condemned by the European Court of Human Rights for exceeding reasonable time. Proceedings were at last resumed when the case was transferred to the unit in charge of crimes against humanity and war crimes, which was set up in January 2012 within the Paris court of first instance.

“The French courts have shown, with the Simbikangwa trial in 2014, that such cases could be tried. We count on the same being true for the highly emblematic case of Father Wenceslas.”
Michel Tubiana, lawyer and LDH Honorary President

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