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ICTR says prosecutors cannot transfer Rwanda genocide case to Norway
ICTR says prosecutors cannot transfer Rwanda genocide case to Norway

[JURIST] The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda [official website; JURIST news archive] has denied prosecutors' request to transfer the trial of Rwandan genocide suspect Michel Bagaragaza [Trial Watch profile] to Norway because Norway does not have a specific law against genocide. In its decision [text], the UN-backed court said:

In this case, it is apparent that the Kingdom of Norway does not have jurisdiction (ratione materiae) over the crimes as charged in the confirmed Indictment. In addition, the Chamber recalls that the crimes alleged – genocide, conspiracy to commit genocide and complicity in genocide – are significantly different in term of their elements and their gravity from the crime of homicide, the basis upon which the Kingdom of Norway states that charges may be laid against the Accused under its domestic law. The Chamber notes that the crime of genocide is distinct in that it requires the "intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such". This specific intent is not required for the crime of homicide under Norwegian criminal law. Therefore, in the Chamber's view, the ratione materiae jurisdiction, or subject matter jurisdiction, for the acts alleged in the confirmed Indictment does not exist under Norwegian law. Consequently, Michel Bagaragaza's alleged criminal acts cannot be given their full legal qualification under Norwegian criminal law, and the request for the referral to the Kingdom of Norway falls to be dismissed.

Bagaragaza, who was director of the body regulating Rwanda's tea industry, is accused of ordering the killings of hundreds of Tutsis during the central African nation's ethnic bloodshed in 1994. He surrendered in August [JURIST report] and faces three counts of genocide.

Prosecutors had sought the transfer [JURIST report] because of a backlog of cases. Under Norwegian law, Bagaragaza could have been charged only with homicide and, if convicted, likely would have spent no more than 21 years in prison. Norway would have become the first country outside Africa to try an African war crimes suspect. Reuters has more. The UN News Centre has additional coverage.