A group of people under the banner of Concerned Citizens on Wednesday delivered a petition parliament over Rwandan genocide suspect Vincent Murekezi to be extradited after the National Prosecution Authority in Rwanda has confirmed that he is a genocide convict having duly tried by the country’s courts on crimes against humanity following the country’s brutal and protracted 1994 genocide which saw about a million Tutsi and moderate Hutu’s being butchered.
Malawi’s Home Affairs minister Grace Chiumia told parliament that she knows Murekezi as a ‘successful business person’, a development which may likely cause a diplomatic row between Kigali and Lilongwe.
The over-zealous youthful minister Chiumia is well known for her public gaffes like the one she addressed President Peter Mutharika as Life President which provoked the anger of many Malawians who thought she was trying to bring back Malawi to a de-facto one party rule like that of former dictator and president for life Dr Hastings Kamuzu Banda.
Director of Rwandan National Prosecution Authority Faustin Nkuzi confirmed in a telephone interview with Nyasa Times that Vincent Murekezi also known as Vincent Banda is a genocide convict having been duly tried in absentia by the Rwandan Special Tribunal on Genocide like the rest of the 231 suspects who fled the country after the heinous crimes they committed in 1994.
“Yes I can confirm to you that Murekezi is a wanted genocide convict who was tried, convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment following the due process of the courts after he fled the country,” Nkuzi said.
He further said his department has been in touch with the Malawi’s Director of Public Prosecution since 2009 on the status of Murekezi and others to have them extradited back to Rwanda but has not been successful despite that the two country’s are in a diplomatic relations and both being signatories of several conventions and protocols like the African Charter on Human Rights.
These conventions and protocols put an obligation on member states to extradite back fugitives who fled their countries after committing heinous crimes back to their countries to face prosecution for crimes against humanity.
According to a Capital Hill source who confided in this reporter, Murekezi seems to be well connected to the powers that be in the country that is why he is still roaming freely in the streets of the Capital Lilongwe no wonder the Home Affairs minister Chiumia commented tongue in cheek that Murekezi is a successful business person when in fact he is a convicted criminal back home in Rwanda.
The Rwandan has been hitting headlines in both local and international media after it was revealed that he acquired Malawi’s citizenship and passports.
His Rwandan passport number PC 939663 indicates that his birthplace is Ngoma-Huye in Rwanda; the same information appears in a Rwandan government dossier which names him as a genocide convict.
In the passport he acquired in 2011 number MA07817, Murekezi identified himself as a Malawian citizen from Mbeya, Tanzania. He also identifies himself in his other Malawian passport he acquired in 2016 as Vincent Murekezi born in Kigali in Rwanda.
Malawi’s Immigration Department spokesperson Joseph Chauwa confirmed that the genocide convict has a Malawian passport number MA606888 which his department issued after getting clearance from Police Headquarters at Area 30 in Lilongwe.
“Indeed Immigration authorities issued the passport after getting clearance from police headquarters. My department also gave Murekezi the passport because met all the requirements for awarding a Malawi citizenship and travel document,” said Chauwa.
However, our Capital Hill source quashed Chauwa’s assertion arguing that Murekezi may have bribed both the police and Immigration official which included the Chief Immigration Officer up to the minister of Home Affairs and Internal Security.
“It is true that the Rwandan government through the National Prosecution Authority have been in touch with its Malawian counterpart since 2009 but the Malawian authorities have been pla the National Prosecution Authority have been in touch with its Malawian counterpart since 2009 but the Malawian authorities have been playing hide and seek because apparently the officials and the minister has been receiving huge sums in kick backs from the convict,” said the source who is a very senior government official.
He said what the Malawian government officials are doing is likely to backfire in the faces as this issue is getting out of hand and will likely lead into a diplomatic standoff between the two countries.
Meanwhile, a group of civil rights activists led by a fierce critic of the government Phillip Kamangira has demanded that the Malawi government should within 24 hours arrest and extradite Vincent Murekezi.
Speaking after presenting the petition to parliament through Committee on Defence and Security, Kamangira said government should probe on how the convict acquired the passports and that all person involved in the process be suspended, investigated and prosecuted.
“We demand that the convict be extradited for fear of compromising national security. The government must withdraw the two passports in the custody of the convict should be withdrawn within 24 hours otherwise we will organize national vigils and demonstrations to force the government to take action,” said Kamangira in his trademark red beret like that of firebrand South African Julius Malema.
Kamangira also demanded an apology from Home Affairs minister Chiumia for her comments which have been construed as backing the fugitive genocide convict.
“Chiumia should apologise to Malawians for insinuating that Murekezi is a ‘successful businessman’ when in fact he is a genocide convict. Let Chiumia know that Malawians are tired of her public gaffes which are often in bad taste. We also call on president Mutharika to fire her with immediate effect. We have no doubt that she is on Murekezi’s payroll hence trying to paint him white,” said Kamangira.
And Malawi flagship newspaper, The Daily Times has said in its editorial comment on Friday that Malawi government risks a tainted image before the international community on suspicion that it is harbouring someone suspected of being involved in war crimes.
“It is time the government came back to its senses and let justice take its course. After all, if Murekezo is innocent, he will regain his freedom,” commented the paper.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :