French court rejects extradition of Rwandan ex-judge

10th January 2012, Comments 0 comments

A French appeals court on Tuesday rejected an extradition request from Kigali for a former Rwandan judge accused of involvement in the country's 1994 genocide.

The court in Versailles near Paris also lifted legal restrictions on Manasse Bigwenzare, 77, who was arrested in June at his retirement home in Val d'Oise north of Paris.

Kigali had been seeking his extradition on charges of genocide and crimes against humanity.

After the ruling, Bigwenzare said he was "happy" and denied any involvement in the genocide.

"I always knew it was a lie," he said, adding that he had not been involved in any political activity in Rwanda.

Bigwenzare fled Rwanda in 1994, obtained refugee status in France in 2003 and became a French citizen in 2010.

More than 800,000 people, mainly minority Tutsis, were massacred by Hutu soldiers and extremist militias in the Rwandan genocide from April to July 1994, according to UN figures.

© 2012 AFP

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