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Sweden releases Rwanda genocide suspect

A Rwandan genocide suspect, who has been held in Sweden without trial since July 2008 should be set free, the Swedish Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday.

Sweden releases Rwanda genocide suspect

“I cried for the first time in my life. It is a miracle and proof that the justice system works,” 54-year-old Sylvere Ahorugeze said after the court’s decision, which reverses a previous ruling.

Ahorugeze is suspected of having been one of the leaders of the Hutu extremists involved in the genocide of around 800,000 people, mostly minority Tutsis, and stands accused of murdering 28 Tutsis in a suburb of Kigali on April 7th, 1994.

He was arrested in July 2008 after being recognised at a visit to the Rwandan embassy in Stockholm while living as a refugee in neighbouring Denmark.

Rwanda requested his extradition a month later.

Ahorugeze on Tuesday emphasised his denials of the allegations in Rwanda, claiming that he is the victim of a “political conspiracy”.

“I have nothing to hide. I know that I have done nothing wrong,” he said.

The 54-year-old’s lawyer Hans Bredberg said that his client plans to seek damages for the time he has spent in custody.

“Three years have been taken from his life. Imagine sitting in a cell 23 hours a day without information.”

The Supreme Court on Wednesday reversed a decision taken in November 2010 to keep the man in custody.

A year after Ahorugeze’s arrest Sweden decided to send him back to Rwanda to face prosecution, but suspended the extradition following a request by the European Court of Human Rights, amid concerns over the central African nation’s rights record and the independence of its judiciary.

Wednesday’s decision has no bearing on the underlying issue of the charges Ahorugeze faces and is simply a ruling on whether he should be held in custody pending a final decision on his extradition.

The court ruled that it is not reasonable for Ahorugeze to be held in custody for such an extended period of time.

Ahorugeze expressed his intention to return to his family in Denmark on Wednesday. If he were to remain in Denmark then Sweden would not be able to complete his extradition to Rwanda if such a decision were to be taken.

Extradition from Denmark to Sweden can only be sought if any suspected offences occurred in Sweden and can not be sought for the purpose of simply extraditing a person to a third country.

Rwandan authorities would in that case have to seek extradition directly from Denmark.

Sweden’s justice minister Beatrice Ask on Wednesday declined to comment on the court’s decision, preferring to wait until she had received the ruling in full.

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LAW

Swedish law to include crimes against humanity

Sweden is set to introduce crimes against humanity into its penal code in a move to tackle widespread, systematic, and inhumane crimes abroad in Swedish courts.

Swedish law to include crimes against humanity

Sweden said Friday it would introduce crimes against humanity into its penal code to allow it to judge such cases in its own courts, following similar moves by France and Canada.

The change, which also expands laws on genocide and war crimes, is part of a justice ministry bill expected to pass easily in parliament and come into force in July 2014, the Swedish press said.

Sweden's Minister of Justice, Beatrice Ask, told the daily Svenska Dagbladet that the current penal code required some improvements and "the way this kind of serious crime is dealt with will become much clearer".

Crimes against humanity, according to the definition in the bill, include murder, extermination, enslavement, deportation, imprisonment, torture, sexual violence, persecution and any other inhumane act or omission committed against civilians, in a widespread or systematic manner.    

Several people in Sweden have been sentenced since 2006 for war crimes committed during the Yugoslav wars.    

In June this year the country's first trial for genocide concluded with a life sentence for the Swede of Rwandan origin, Stanislas Mbanenande.

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