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Friday, 13 July, 2001, 11:10 GMT 12:10 UK
Rwanda praises Europe arrests
Skulls of Rwanda genocide victims
The prisoners are accused of crimes against humanity
The Rwandan Government has praised the arrests in three European countries of a former minister, a priest and a musician in connection with the 1994 genocide.

The three Rwandans arrested in Switzerland, Belgium and Holland are to be transferred to the UN war crimes tribunal in Arusha, Tanzania.

Chief prosecutor for the United Nations International Carla del Ponte at a press conference in Geneva
Carla del Ponte: Welcomes the arrests
Justice Minister Jean de Dieu Mucyo expressed thanks and called on other countries harbouring Rwandan genocide suspects "to do as much".

The three men are charged separately with genocide, complicity in genocide, conspiracy to commit genocide, and crimes against humanity.

Their extradition will bring to 50 the number of people in the tribunal's custody.

Belgium arrests minister

The former minister, Emmanuel Ndindabahizi, 51, was arrested by police in an early morning raid on his home in the eastern Belgian town of Verviers.

Mr Ndindabahizi was finance minister in Rwanda from April to July 1994, during the massacre of an estimated 800,000 Tutsis and Hutu moderates.

Officials said that he had applied for asylum in Belgium, but was turned down and will remain in custody until his transfer to Arusha within three months.

Switzerland arrests priest

In Switzerland, the authorities arrested a former Rwandan army chaplain sought for similar charges.

"I am surprised and stupefied, because apparently Italy doesn't know that the obligation to execute our arrest warrant is an international obligation without need of an internal law

Carla del Ponte
A spokesman for the tribunal, Kingsley Moghalu, detailed the accusations against Emmanuel Rekundo, an ordained Catholic priest who is believed to have arrived in Switzerland in 1999.

"He is accused of crimes in Kabgayi, he visited a seminary there and a school where he was always escorted by soldiers and Interahamwe (militia) while allegedly hunting down Tutsi refugees and killing them," Mr Moghalu was quoted as saying by the AP news agency.

"He ordered the killing of a Tutsi priest, who was a colleague, and participated in denunciation campaigns," he added.

Mr Rukundo, 42, has the right to appeal the extradition decision to the Swiss Federal Tribunal, Switzerland's highest court.

Holland arrests musician

Simon Bikindi, a Rwandan musician, was arrested by Dutch police in the city of Leiden.

A human rights group that has investigated the genocide, African Rights, says Mr Bikindi wrote songs and poems that incited against Tutsis.

Bones from Rwanda genocide victims
About 800,000 are estimated to have been killed
Chief UN war crimes chief-prosecutor, Carla del Ponte, said there should have been a fourth arrest in Italy, but that the Italian authorities had decided to postpone the arrest saying there was no legal basis.

Visibly angry at the Italian decision, Mrs del Ponte said she hoped Italy would learn how to cooperate with the International Criminal Tribunal:

"I am surprised and stupefied, because apparently Italy doesn't know that the obligation to execute our arrest warrant is an international obligation without need of an internal law.

"In the light of the charges brought against the accused I fervently hope that Italy will prove itself able to meet its responsibilities and that it will agree to co-operate with the ICTR."

See also:

01 Aug 01 | Europe
Rwanda nuns guilty of genocide
17 Jul 00 | Africa
Rwanda counts its dead
22 Jan 00 | Africa
Rwanda updates genocide list
16 Dec 99 | Africa
UN admits failure in Rwanda
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