NAIROBI, Oct 23 – Rwanda plans to ask Italy to extradite a Rwandan Hutu priest, accused by an African rights group of being involved in the massacre of 80 students during the 1994 genocide, officials said Thursday.
Emmanuel Uwayezu is accused by London-based African Rights of being involved in a massacre of "more than 80 young people aged between 12 and 20 years old" from a school in Kibeho in southern Rwanda where he was headmaster.
Uwayezu, 47, was picked up on Tuesday by Italian police near Florence after Rwandan authorities issued a warrant for his arrest via Interpol, with a view to trial in Rwanda.
"In launching the mandate against him, we asked that he be arrested and transferred to Rwanda. We’re going to ask Italy to extradite him to Rwanda," the spokesman for the chief prosecutor, Augustine Nkuzi, said on Radio Rwanda on Thursday.
"Here, justice functions well. Even the international community recognises that," Nkuzi added.
Several other Rwandans accused of taking part in the 1994 genocide have been arrested in European countries, but none of them have been extradited to Rwanda.
European leaders are unconvinced that the defendants will get a fair trial in the central African country. Kigali calls on those which refuse to extradite suspects to try them where they were arrested.
Uwayezu had been living in Italy for more than 15 years and served as a vicar in Ponzano, some 20 kilometres (15 miles) from Florence.
According to African Rights, Uwayezu had links to a machete-wielding militia that attacked the students.
The clergyman defended himself, saying he wanted "to open a trial on this case in order to establish the facts", Italy’s ANSA news agency reported Tuesday.
"I took no part in genocide. Instead, the bishop and I tried unsuccessfully to save young people massacred by the militia," the Italian news agency quoted him as saying.
The Rwandan genocide of 1994 mainly targeted minority Tutsis and about 800,000 people were killed, according to the United Nations.