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Norway can't try Rwanda genocide case: UN

A UN court has rejected the transfer of the case to Norway saying that the country lacks a specific law against genocide.

india Updated: May 23, 2006 12:40 IST
United News of India
United News of India

A United Nations court has rejected the transfer of a Rwandan genocide suspect's case to Norway, saying the country lacks a specific law against genocide.

Michel Bagaragaza, a former director general of Rwanda's tea industry regulator, is accused of ordering subordinates to kill hundreds of Tutsis hiding in a cathedral and a factory during the 1994 slaughter in the central African nation.

He surrendered last August and faces three counts of genocide at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), set up in Arusha, Tanzania, to try suspected ringleaders of the killing of 800,000 Tutsis and their Hutu sympathisers.

In February, UN prosecutors -- facing a serious backlog of cases -- urged the court to move his trial to Norway, arguing that such a transfer would help create wider international understanding of how genocide can happen.

But the court on Friday denied the request, saying Norway had no laws on its books against genocide -- only homicide laws that would most likely mean that Bagaragaza would face no more than 21 years in prison if convicted.

"Michel Bagaragaza's alleged criminal acts cannot be given their full legal qualification under Norwegian criminal law, and the request for the referral to (Norway) falls to be dismissed," the ruling, dated on Friday, says.

The backlogged tribunal is under pressure to clear many cases by the expiry of its mandate in 2008.

Prosecutors believe European nations might be able to help them ease the load, analysts and diplomats say.

Rwanda vehemently protested the move in February, but failed to register its complaint to the court in the proper fashion and its arguments were excluded, the court said in its decision.

Rwandan officials were not immediately available for comment.

Bagaragaza is also accused of giving hate speeches to incite Hutus to kill, raising money to train militias and of ordering tea factory employees to give fuel to the Interahamwe militia responsible for much of the killing.

First Published: May 23, 2006 12:40 IST