Zambia on Saturday denied reports that it had failed to help Rwandan authorities find and arrest 1994 genocide suspects believed to be living in Zambia.
Acting Foreign Minister Ronnie Shikapwasha said Zambia had offered vital information to the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), directly and through the International Committee on the Great Lakes region, to ensure that genocide suspects were handed over to prosecutors.
Shikapwasha was reacting to media reports that the head of the Rwandan unit tracking genocide suspects, Bosco Mutangana, had said that Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique were not willing to extradite suspects of the genocide in which some 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus were slaughtered over three months in 1994.
“It will be important that we are informed of the specific cases that they are talking about. Let them tell us the people we are unwilling to extradite,” Shikapwasha told Reuters.
“This highly sensitive issue has been addressed neither to me nor to our ambassador in Tanzania, who is accredited to Rwanda,” Shikapwasha said.
Mutangana was quoted as saying hundreds of “fugitives” were living in southern Africa despite several diplomatic attempts to have them extradited to face prosecution.
He said Rwanda’s chief prosecutor had visited Zambia and Mozambique twice, in 2007 and 2009, and was still waiting for an appointment with Malawi authorities. Authorities in all three nations had the names and addresses of the suspects but were apparently not willing to have them extradited, he said.
He was quoted as accusing African countries of “dragging their feet” compared with the way Europe had dealt with requests from Rwandan prosecutors.
Officials of the three countries had been handed files on the suspects and invited to Rwanda, but had failed to come and carry out their own investigations, Mutangana was quoted as saying.