Rwandan genocide
Preserved human skulls on display at the Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre Reuters

A judge in London has ruled against the extradition of five Rwandan men accused of taking part in the 1994 genocide. The men have denied any involvement in the genocide, which left at least 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus dead.

District judge Emma Arbuthnot at Westminster Magistrates' Court said there was a risk the defendants – Vincent Bajinya, Charles Munyaneza, Emmanuel Nteziryayo, Celestin Ugirashebuja and Celestin Mutabaruka– would not be guaranteed a fair trial in Rwanda.

She added the men could be at risk of being tortured in secret camps and that the extradition was not compatible with the Human Rights Act 1998.

The Rwandan government denied the allegations and assured the men would not face the death penalty.

The Crown Prosecution Service said it would appeal against the ruling.

The five defendants face charges including mass murder and crimes against humanity. A previous attempt to extradite four of them was halted by the High Court in 2009.

The decision was condemned by anti-genocide campaigners who argued the ruling sent the wrong message to those who survived the atrocity. The UK government was also urged to change its law and allow courts to prosecute crimes against humanity.

The latest verdict came as the Tanzania-based International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) is closing after indicting 93 individuals believed to have taken part in the genocide.

The tribunal was the first to deliberate on matters relating to genocide and to recognise rape as a form of perpetrating genocide following the high profile trial of Rwandan politician Jean-Paul Akayesu.

ICTR's responsibilities will be transferred to the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals, set up by the UN Security Council to carry out functions of the ICTR and the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) after the end of their mandates.

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