Norway will extradite Eugene Nkuranyabahizi to Rwanda, who accuses him of genocide. Now Ny Tid can reveal that several of the witnesses say they gave false testimonies.


The prison door is heavily closed behind Eugene Nkuranyabahizi. He lifts his gaze from the tabletop in the small visiting room in Stavanger prison, and says, "It's my children who keep me up to date on all this." "I've lost both my job and my freedom, and I've been in custody for over 11 days. Don't send me to abusers. Then everything is over for me, ”says Nkuranyabahizi. He can be put on the plane to Rwanda at any time.

False explanations. Nkuranyabahizi came to Norway in 1999 as UN quota refugee from Rwanda via Kenya. He educated and took both bachelor's and master's degrees in economics and resource management at the University of Ås, got married, had three children, worked in the oil industry and later in the Loan Fund. He has been active in the Baptist church in Stavanger for many years, and has his own support group protesting that he will be extradited to Rwanda. Nkuranyabahizi has been defended by Brynjulf ​​Risnes in Matrix attorneys since 2015. Risnes himself traveled to Rwanda to conduct investigations and, among other things, with the help of a Dutch team, obtained a number of witness statements in the aftermath of the lawsuits against Nkuranyabahizi in Norway.

Ny Tid has gained access to video and audio recordings from several witnesses who can shed a whole new light on the accusations against Nkuranyabahizi. Both Norwegian law and the Ministry of Justice and Emergency Preparedness have been sent the information about the witness statements, and have been offered to watch the videos and audio files. The witnesses appear with their full names. They say that they want to explain themselves in Norwegian law, but that they do not want to appear in the media with name and picture, for fear of reprisals from the Rwandan authorities. Two witnesses who were emphasized by the court in Norway now say that they lied to Kripos because they were under pressure from the Rwandan authorities. The explanation given by the two witnesses was a central reason why the Court of Appeal concluded that there were good grounds for suspicion – and thus grounds for the extradition of Nkuranyabahizi. The testimony of one witness was particularly emphasized by the Court of Appeal. He was the only one to say that Nkuranyabahizi had been at the scene where a number of people were killed. In the video footage Ny Tid has been given access to, the man says, among other things, this: "I choose to tell the truth now, because I regret that I lied about Nkuranyabahizi."


Screen Shot at 2016 08-17-16.25.40Was charged 15 years later. From early April to mid-July 1994, between 800 and one million Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed in Rwanda. The genocide was centrally organized, but to a large extent it was also ordinary citizens who were responsible for the purge: Hutus formed extremist militias and took on the task of killing or expelling all Tutsis. Many civilians were forced or incited to participate. Neighbors, colleagues and friends killed each other in what was to be a bloodbath over three months long.

The Netherlands, France and England have stopped extradition to Rwanda of people accused of participating in the genocide.

In the aftermath of the genocide, so-called gacaca courts were set up, which were to ensure settlement locally in the villages where the violence had taken place. Anyone who had experienced violence, abuse or theft could bring charges, and lawsuits were filed. The purpose of the courts was to get to the bottom of and uncover what happened during the genocide, and to be able to put the trauma behind them. In order for as many of the culprits as possible to be arrested, the gacaca courts had a system where those found guilty received a penalty rebate if they provided information and testified against others who had participated.

Eugene Nkuranyabahizi was never accused of taking part in the genocide in the Gacaca courts. None of those convicted mentioned Nkuranyabahizi's name, and none of them indicated that he had participated in the violence. Lawsuits have been filed against several of those behind the genocide in the village where Nkuranyabahizi was in 1994, including the mayor of the city, who has been convicted of organizing and leading the violence. Nkuranyabahizi's name was never mentioned by either the mayor or the Rwandan prosecutors.
Sometime in 2001, however, Nkuranyabahizi's name appeared in a gacaca court. Then it was suspected that he had eaten meat from a stolen cow. He admitted that he had eaten the meat from the cow, but not having participated in the theft.

The first time Rwandan prosecutors made serious allegations against Nkuranyabahizi was in 2009 – 15 years after the genocide. He was then wanted internationally by the police in Rwanda as a suspect for having participated, and an Interpol request was sent out to the Norwegian police. The origin of the accusations came from a list of 19 names of Rwandan people living in Norway, all of whom were accused of involvement in the genocide. The list was sent to the Norwegian authorities, and Kripos investigated all 19 people on the list, including Nkuranyabahizi. The names on the list were obtained by a Tutsi resident as a refugee in Norway. The cases were dropped one by one, because Kripos did not find grounds for reasonable cause of suspicion against any of the names – except two, of which Nkuranyabahizi was one.


Abuse and torture. The Netherlands, France and England have stopped extradition to Rwanda of people accused of participating in the genocide. The reason is that there is a great danger that they will not get a fair trial in Rwanda, and that they may be subjected to abuse and torture. Authorities in Rwanda have for many years been criticized by Amnesty, Human Rights Watch and Reporters Without Borders for the repression of oppositional, repeated human rights abuses and lack of legal certainty. This year, the US State Department released the report US Department of State: Country report for 2015 Rwanda. It states, among other things, that “the most important human rights problem in the country was harassment by the authorities; arrest and ill-treatment of political opponents; that human rights lawyers and individuals are seen as threats to government control and social structure; the security forces that ignore the rule of law, as well as restrictions on civil liberties ».

Furthermore, it says that the citizens of Rwanda do not have the opportunity for a change of government, because there are no free elections. The US report also highlights the following:
"Other major human rights problems are extrajudicial killings, torture and harsh conditions in prisons and detention centers, arbitrary arrests, extended detentions, government violations of citizens' rights and freedom of expression, freedom of the press and freedom of assembly."

On 24 June, the Norwegian Ministry of Justice and Emergency Management decided that Nkuranyabahizi could be extradited to Rwanda, and that there was probably no danger of human rights violations. He is accused of having facilitated genocide, and the case has been up in the Supreme Court. The Norwegian authorities have not taken a position on whether he is guilty or not, only whether they believe there is good reason to suspect, and whether he will get a fair trial and safeguard his human rights in Rwanda.

«He was not involved in violence.» The man in the video recording Ny Tid has seen, says that he himself was involved in the genocide and has served a sentence for this. Later, however, he is said to have been approached by the authorities: "I was approached by the Rwandan authorities in 2013, and asked to make false accusations against Eugene Nkuranyabahizi," the witness says. He further explains that it all started with him and many others from his village being collected by the police. There they received warnings and instructions to accuse Nkuranyabahizi of having participated in the genocide. The witness also says that he was later personally approached by a man from the Rwandan authorities who threatened him privately: If he did not lie about Nkuranyabahizi to both Norwegian police and Norwegian law, he himself would have new accusations directed against him and be imprisoned. "If I oppose this man, who is president of the IBUKA [organization affiliated with the authorities, journ. note], I'm sent back to jail. He is a survivor of the genocide and can get me in jail at any time, "the witness said in the video.

Kripos' investigation may have gone awry from the start.

Rwandan President Paul Kagame. PHOTO: / AFP / ZACHARIAS ABUBEKER
Rwandan President Paul Kagame. PHOTO: / AFP / ZACHARIAS ABUBEKER

He also believes that some of the motivation for the accusations comes from jealousy and a conflict between the president of the organization and Nkuranyabahizi's brother: "The brother has a big and nice house in Rwanda, which many believed was financed with money from Eugene Nkuranyabahizi, who lives in Europe. They believe that it is Eugene's money that has financed the house, and that they can therefore take the house. The fine house led to jealousy and the authorities wanted Nkuranyabahizi wrongly convicted of genocide, "the witness said. If convicted of genocide in Rwanda, the property and property of the convict will be confiscated and distributed.
Nkuranyabahizi is not accused of killing anyone, but of planning and urging the militia to kill Tutsis. He himself belongs to the Hutu people. His girlfriend at the time was Tutsi. He has always said that during the genocide he went out to look for his girlfriend and save her from the militia. The girlfriend has confirmed this, and says that Nkuranyabahizi did not participate in any form of abuse.


«Was pressured by Rwandan authorities. " The other witness, who has previously been questioned by Kripos in Rwanda, and who now completely reverses his explanation, says that he also lied due to pressure. He says he withdraws all the accusations he made, and that he very much regrets the accusations. This witness has linked Nkuranyabahizi to roadblocks where there were militias sorting out Tutsi refugees who were later to be killed. The witness now says that he too was approached by the president of the organization IBUKA and asked to lie. In addition, six other witnesses say they have been approached by people connected to the authorities, and have been pressured to give a false statement against Nkuranyabahizi.

Another who says he was taken to prison is the principal of the school Nkuranyabahizi worked at in Rwanda. The principal has been designated as one of the most central in the planning and implementation of the killings in the village. He should not have been questioned by the Norwegian police. Witnesses have explained that they saw Nkuranyabahizi with the principal when the genocide took place, and this was referred to in the Norwegian trials. The principal has admitted to having participated in the killings, and has subsequently served ten years in prison. He says in a written statement that Ny Tid has been informed that the public prosecutor and the president of IBUKA visited him in prison, and promised that he would be released prematurely if he testified falsely against Nkuranyabahizi. The principal did not want to agree to this, and thus remained in office for ten years as planned. He now says that Nkuranyabahizi was neither with him, participated in or assisted in any acts of violence.

"This case needs to be looked at with fresh eyes, otherwise I'm afraid we're committing a heinous act against a man and his family."

Another video recording Ny Tid has had access to, shows a witness who tells of major consequences of not giving in to pressure. This person was in the area where the genocide took place, and saw Nkuranyabahizi several times. The witness says that Nkuranyabahizi never took part in acts of violence or had anything to do with the killings: “For a long time I was pressured to give false statements against Nkuranyabahizi, but I refused to lie. My life has become difficult because I did not do as they said. Among other things, I have lost my job. Both I and my spouse were pressured. When I did not give in, my spouse divorced me. "

Another witness explains that on May 20, 2014, he, along with many others, was gathered by the police and a military leader in the village of Nyagisozi, where Nkuranyabahizi lived. "We were told that if any of us came to defend or testify in favor of any of those accused by the authorities of genocide, we ourselves would be considered genocide," the witness said. "Nkuranyabahiza name was mentioned by the officer," he added. Several others say that they were also present during this meeting, and that they also perceived the police and the military leader's instructions as threats.


Goes to court against the State. Inside the small visiting room in the prison in Stavanger, Eugene Nkuranyabahizi sits in an intense conversation with Supreme Court lawyer Brynjulf ​​Risnes. They do not know if this is the last time they see each other.
"It would be an abuse to send Nkuranyabahizi to Rwanda now that we have obtained new information showing that key witnesses have changed their explanations. In addition, it has been documented and raised beyond any doubt that he will not get a fair trial in Rwanda, "Risnes told Ny Tid. He took over as Nkuranyabahizi's defender after the cases were completed in Norwegian law. Since the Ministry of Justice and Emergency Preparedness has agreed to extradition, a civil lawsuit against the State is the only thing that can stop the extradition.

There are still witnesses who believe he played a role in the genocide. What do you think about it?

"The problem is that we have received information about the influence of witnesses from the authorities. Rwanda is not like Norway. We are talking about a totalitarian government where one is dependent on the authorities to a much greater extent than in Norway. If it is true that there has been extensive influence on witnesses, which is much indicated now, there is no less reason to believe that other witnesses have also lied. The point is that this must be investigated more thoroughly with regard to what we now know, "says Risnes. He believes Kripos' investigation may have gone awry from the start. "This is a case that has come out crooked despite tons of good intentions. Then it is difficult to reverse the whole process. But this case needs to be looked at with fresh eyes, otherwise I'm afraid we're committing a cruel act against a man and his family. We also violate our own principles. We have sufficient information to be able to say that this is not as certain as one might have once thought. It is important that we in Norway – in our contributions to the court settlement after the tragedy of the genocide – adhere to basic principles of human rights, "says the Supreme Court lawyer.

The family fled. Nkuranyabahizi receives a comforting hug inside the prison from his brother, who has come to visit from another European country where he has asylum. Nkuranyabahizi looks at his brother and says: “This has become a nightmare for me and my family. Several have had to flee Rwanda after the accusations against me came. The situation is devastating. I'm not the same person anymore, "he says, looking out the window that is covered with a lattice. "A picture of me with the Norwegian Crown Prince has circulated in the international media. In Rwanda, they write that I have met the Crown Prince to persuade him and Norway to cut aid to Rwanda, "he says, shaking his head.

Have you been involved in violence?


Have you used violence yourself?

"No. Therefore, I can not believe that I am sitting here, remanded in custody for the fourth year. If I'm extradited to Rwanda, I'm done. "All I ask for is a chance to prove my innocence in a fair trial where I can defend myself properly," said Nkuranyabahizi.

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