As the Parliamentary Committee on Defence and Security was planning to meet and discuss the case of Rwandan genocide fugitive Vincent Murekezi following a petition by civil society, the petitioners have changed tune and withdrawn the petition.
Some Malawians calling themselves Concerned Citizens told reporters on Thursday, led by their chairperson Phillip Kamangira, that they will no longer be involved in issues of Murekezi.
Addressing a news conference at Bridge View Hotel in Lilongwe, the group said it has withdrawn their petition after conducting through investigations and concluded that there is some political mist to his issue.
Community that are residing in Malawi and would like to use Malawi as a battleground in settling their difference
“While Mr Murekezi need to answer to charges levelled against him and exonerate himself of the same, there are also indicators that he has been living in Malawi since 2013 and was part of entourage that welcomed His Excellency Paul Kagame the president of Rwanda at a time when the Paul Kagame Road was officially inaugurated in 2007. During that time they said 18 Rwandans who had criminal cases including genocide were arrested and deported”, Kamangira said.
One of the leaders of the grouping, Chikumbutso Mtumodzi said they investigated with the Genocide Tribunal Office in Arusha, Tanzania and discovered that out of 95 names indicted and on wanted list for genocide crimes, Vincent Murekezi does not appear and there’s $5million bounty on the fled suspects at large, saying it’s baffling that Murekezi has been living freely among the Rwandans community in Malawi regardless of such bounty.
“As a matter of fact, Murekezi is 48 years old now and if we do calculations genocide took place in 1994 which means he was in his 20s, if you go on Google or ask Rwanda government you will see that all the suspects who took part were in their thirties and forties then. This is a tribal war between Rwandan Community as you might aware that Murekezi is a Hutu but he married a Tutsi wife , how can he kill a tribe he married ?” said Mtumodzi.
Murekezi was arrested by police in Lilongwe on Thursday, a day after it transpired that the Rwandan government expressed concern over his prolonged stay in Malawi which he turned into a safe haven.
But according to Kigali, Murekezi was found guilty of crimes related to the 1994 genocide and subsequently sentenced to life imprisonment.
Murekezi also faces allegations that he was involved in criminal activities bordering on corruption together with Komani Nyasulu.
Civil society’s Bright Kampaundi said Murekezi, a wealthy businessman, should however face the due process of the law to answer the other charge of corruption.
Murekezi, who has lived in Malawi since 2003, initially applied for temporary residence permit after securing police clearance. He went on to apply for business permit, Permanent Residence Permit (2008) and citizenship in 2013.
Murekezi was granted citizenship under Citizenship Act Cap 1501 after paying US$5000. He made this payment on 9 March 2016.
The following day, he applied for a passport, which was also issued, according to Immigration Department public relations officer Joseph Chauwa.
Meanwhile, Rwandan authorities say up to 36 more fugitives are hiding in Malawi.
They have requested the Malawi Government to arrest and extradite them to answer charges on their roles in the genocide.
A published report said the request from Rwanda came after the Malawi government had ignored for many years, the extradition of Murekezi.
Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Home Affairs, Beston Chisamile said government is currently investigating Rwandan Nationals living in the country to establish how many genocide suspects are.
“I don’t have much information on that but what we have done is from those claims we have launched investigations so it will be pre-emptive now to comment on the issue” said Chisamile on Capital Radio.
He however pointed out that they have not received any official communication form the Rwandan government to repatriate the said 36 genocide suspects.
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