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Rwanda Criticizes Amnesty International Comment on Extraditions

Rwanda's Prosecutor General has condemned a statement by advocacy group Amnesty International that urged foreign governments not to extradite genocide suspects to Rwanda. The Amnesty statement questioned the impartiality of Rwanda's justice system. Noel King has more on the reaction in this report from Kigali.

Prosecutor General Martin Ngoga told VOA that he will accept criticism of Rwanda's legal system, if it comes through legitimate channels.

Ngoga called Amnesty's statement poorly researched and said it does not allow Rwanda to rebut the allegations in a court of law. "Anybody is free to challenge our opinion, but with evidence and fact," said Ngoga. "What Amnesty International is not offering is actual facts and evidence. It's just blatant allegations."

Amnesty International says countries in which genocide suspects are living, including Britain, France and Canada, should try the suspects themselves. Amnesty says reports of unfair trials within Rwanda's community-based gacaca courts have cast doubt on the nation's justice system.

Rwanda started using the gacaca courts in 2001. The system, in which the alleged participants in the genocide are tried in their home villages, was implemented because the nation's regular courts were overwhelmed by the prospect of trials for thousands of suspects in the genocide.

Ngoga said Rwanda welcomes international organizations to the country to view court proceedings. "I have no recollection of ever meeting anybody from Amnesty International," commented Ngoga. "I'm not even aware if they are represented in Rwanda. We highly doubt the credibility of the methods of their investigation and we believe their findings are completely wrong."

Amnesty also urged the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, currently based in Arusha, Tanzania, not to turn over pending cases to Kigali when the court's mandate expires. After Rwanda abolished the death penalty in July, the ICTR said it would return suspects to Rwanda for trial.

The International Criminal Tribunal was created in 1994 by the U.N. Security Council. The court has tried 27 cases and handed down 22 convictions, according to the ICTR's official website.

Rwanda's genocide saw an estimated 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus slaughtered by Hutu militias, and by ordinary Rwandans, in a little over three months time.