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BRITAIN HARBOURS RWANDAN GENOCIDE SUSPECT

The Rwanda government has appealed to Britain to extradite a senior ethnic Hutu army commander accused of ordering the murder of 25 children and the country's last Tutsi queen during the 1994 genocide. According to Rwanda authorities, there is "overwhelming evidence" that Lieutenant Colonel Tharcisse Muvunyi was involved in the killings that rocked the world five years ago. Rwanda's military prosecutor, Lieutenant Colonel Andrew Rwigamba, insists that Britian was wrong to grant the suspect sanctuary and he intimated that his country's ambassador to Britain would shortly make a formal extradition to the relevant authorities.

Justice Ministry officials said Muvunyi was well-known and had been a senior member of the former Rwandan army's high command, which played a key role in organising the massacres of an estimated 800,000 ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus over a period of just three months in 1994. He is said to have overseen the killing of 25 Tutsi children who sought refuge at Benebikira convent in Butare in southern Rwanda on April 30, 1994. Witnesses say soldiers and militiamen arrived at the convent on mr. Muvunyi's orders, loaded the children on a truck and took them to a forest where they were slaughtered with machetes and clubs. He is also said to have sent soldiers and Hutu militiamen to kill Queen Rosalia Gicanda and six of her relatives at a forest near her home on April 21, 1994. The queen and her relatives had their limbs severed with machetes and were left to die in the forest. He is further accused of assisting in the murder of hundreds of Tutsis and moderate Hutus before the current government brought a halt to the killings.

British officials acknowledge that Muvunyi has been granted temporary asylum in Britain until the year 2002. They would however give any requests for extradition due consideration.
 
 
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