World News

Sweden to extradite genocide suspect to Rwanda

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - Sweden will extradite a Rwandan to face charges related to crimes carried out during the genocide in the African country more than a decade ago, the Swedish government said Thursday.

The extradition will be the first by a European country of a suspected perpetrator of genocide crimes to Rwanda, the Nordic country’s justice minister said.

Sylvere Ahorugeze, 53, has been in Swedish custody since July last year and Rwandan authorities have demanded that he be extradited to face charges for his role in planning and carrying out the 1994 genocide.

“If someone is suspected of genocide, which is a very serious crime, we have to make sure they are put on trial,” Swedish Minister for Justice Beatrice Ask told reporters at a press briefing.

About 800,000 minority Tutsis and politically moderate Hutus were killed in a 100-day massacre that shocked the world.

Earlier this year, the Swedish Supreme Court said it did not see any legal reasons for Sweden not to extradite Ahorugeze. Ask said the government based its decision on that view and that Rwanda’s legal system had improved in recent years.

“It is important to respect that. I would be surprised if other countries would not make similar decisions in the future,” Ask said.

Ahorugeze, suspected of having participated in the killing of some 25 people, has denied the accusations and said that he as a Hutu risks being persecuted by Rwandan authorities if he is sent back.

Nordic neighbour Finland earlier this year decided not to extradite a Rwandan genocide suspect, saying it feared he would not get a fair trial.

Reporting by Magnus Bellander; Writing by Veronica Ek; Editing by Giles Elgood