Vincent Bajinya (Brown)

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Address: off Calshot Street, Islington, North London

Early Life:

Bajinya was born on 28 February 1952 in Kigombe cell, Karago Commune, in the north west Prefecture of Gisenyi (now renamed Mwiyanika village in Kadahenda cell, Karago sector, Nyabihu district, Western Province).

His parents were parents Venuste Bajinya (a nurse at Mwiyanike Health Centre) and Souzanne Nyiransatsi (a housewife).

Bajinya undertook secondary studies (‘Infirmiere’) in the southern Prefecture of Butare.

As a Hutu from the Bushiru region of northwest Rwanda, Bajinya was a near neighbour to President Juvenal Habyarimana, wife Agathe Kanziga as well as the key power figures of the regime such as ‘Monsieur Z’ – the president’s brother-in-law and military figures such as the Colonels Elie Sagatwa, Theoneste Bagosora and Laurent Serubuga. Career advancement in all parts of society – the army, administration, medicine, the church etc. depended on ethnic and regional background, and having a link someone who was part of the inner familial group around President Habyarimana. Bajinya’s background (a Hutu from Bushiru) made him a prime candidate for admittance to the top educational and career opportunities which were off limits to Tutsi or Hutu from the central/southern prefectures. It also gave Bajinya access to a passport and the ability to travel abroad to take part in the rare foreign educational scholarship opportunities, which were very carefully distributed by the president. In September 1984 Bajinya was selected to travel to Belgium to undertake an internship in family planning at the Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB). The funding/sponsorship was provided by FNUAP (UN Population Fund). Bajinya also travelled to Canada to study on a scholarship.

Once qualified as a medical practitioner, Bajinya worked as a physician at King Faisal Hospital in Kigali. He also worked at the National Office for Population (ONAPO) responsible for family planning and education around it.

Bajinya was a close friend of Guadence Nyirasafari – a member of the powerful National Committee of President Habyarimana’s MRND (Mouvement Révolutionnaire et National pour le Développement) political party. Nyirasafari was a close friend of President Habyarimana and head of the National Population Office (ONAPO) where Bajinya worked. He was also close to Angeline Mukandutiye, who hailed from his home prefecture of Gisenyi and who was close to a number of Akazu figures. Nyirasafari fled Rwanda after the genocide after being implicated in massacres perpetrated by the Interahamwe militia.

Bajinya was part of the powerful, informal, mafia-like familial network (Akazu) surrounding the Rwandan President Juvenal Habyarimana and his wife Agathe that held power and wealth in the country after they came to power in a bloody coup in 1973. He had previously supported the president’s MRND party. By late 1993 however Bajinya had become linked to the Hutu extremist CDR party – an off-shoot of Habyarimana’s MRND. On 12 May 1992, soon after it was formed, the Rwandan journal Libertés d’Afrique had branded the CDR as ‘the Nazi party of Rwanda’ due to its threatening hate speech aimed at perceived enemies – Tutsis and moderate Hutu of other political parties, notably the PL (Liberal party).

On 23 October 1993 Bajinya is said to have attended the infamous mass rally in Nyamirambo stadium in Kigali where the extremist Hutu ‘Power’ faction that united likeminded Hutu from across the political parties was founded. Bajinya was said to be in charge of the protocol at the event.

In around 1993 Bajinya moved to rent a house in the Rugenge area of Kigali

Allegations of complicity in the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi (April – July 1994)

Bajinya is alleged to have collected and supervised the manning of roadblocks where he lived in Rugenge district of the capital, Kigali, and also near to Kibihekane School in north-west Rwanda where extensive killings of Tutsi took place early in the genocide. Witnesses have alleged that took part in the murder of Dominique Leandre in Rugenge, and Charlotte Kamugaja and her baby in Rugenge.

Post genocide (July 1994)

Bajinya fled with his family to Kenya – where other powerful and wealthy Akazu and members of the former regime such as the president’s wife Agathe Habyarimana and brother Protais Zigiranyirazo, businessmen e.g. Felicien Kabuga, political figures e.g. Casimir Bizimungu, Jean Kambanda and Hutu hate media proponents e.g. Ferdinand Nahimana, Hassan Ngese, and Georges Ruggiu had also made their new homes.

The rank-and-file Hutu military and militia, as well as more than a million civilians who did not have the money or power to afford to flee to Kenya/Europe were left to survive in squalid, violent and disease-hit refugee camps principally on the Zaire (DRC)-Rwanda border.

After the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) was established in November 1994 to bring to justice the leading organisers and adherents of the genocide, it became clear that Kenya was no longer a safe ‘retirement’ home for the alleged genocidaire living there. When the ICTR began to arrest genocide suspects in Nairobi in 1996, many Akazu and others with money and/or familial links chose to move to Europe, north America or west Africa to avoid the same fate.

Life in the UK:

Bajinya arrived in the UK in 1999 with his wife and two young children – the same year he was identified by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) as a genocide suspect. He was unable to work as a medical doctor due to the rules of the General Medical Council.

In 2004 Bajinya changed his name to ‘Brown’ when he became a British citizen. He told journalists later that he had done this purely to assist his children at school. In June 2008, during the first extradition case, the judge at Westminster Magistrates Court concluded that Bajinya’s name change was likely to be an attempt to evade being identified.

Bajinya worked as a volunteer for the charity Praxis which assists refugees from Iraq, Somalia and Congo, among others. He was suspended from his position when allegations about him began to appear. Bajinya also worked for the refugee Refugee Nurses Task Force, a charity set up in 2003 to advise the UK government.

In August 2006 a BBC camera team working for the investigative programme ‘Inside Out’ ‘ambushed’ Bajinya outside the charity Praxis, questioning him about his alleged complicity in the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi. According to the BBC report, Vaughan Jones, Praxis director, noted “it would be a tragedy for his organisation if the allegations were true. ‘I had no suspicions and when I saw the allegations, I was very shocked. If they are true then I would feel betrayed, because we work with people who have come from difficult situations and need proper support. We are aware that there are all kinds of allegations and counter allegations in the community and sorting out the victim from the perpetrator is extremely hard.’”

On 28 December 2006 Bajinya was arrested by UK police along with three other genocide suspects and imprisoned in Belmarsh prison for two years while an extradition case at Westminster Magistrates Court was heard. On 6 June 2008 District Judge Anthony Evans ruled that the four accused could be extradited to Rwanda to stand trial. On 8 April 2009 an appeal at the Divisional Court overturned this extradition ruling with defence lawyers arguing successfully that the accused would not receive a fair trial were they to be returned to Rwanda.

BBC Newsnight interview: Bajinya/Brown,  insists he innocent.

In an interview with journalist Emily Maitlis on BBC Newsnight on 8 July 2009 Bajinya, who appeared alongside his silent solicitor Frank Brazell, refused, as was the case with defendants at the International Court in Rwanda (ICTR), to use the term ‘genocide,’ instead referring only to ‘killings’ that had taken place in Rwanda in 1994 during a ‘war’. He told Maitlis that he had fled from Rwanda ‘because there was a war.’ He denied that he was involved with any particular political party or propaganda for any political party telling her ‘those allegations are completely untrue.’ Bajinya’s legal aid bill for this first extradition case was at least £170,744, being represented by the barristers Piers Reed and Alistair Polson.

On 30 May 2013 Bajinya was re-arrested with the four other Rwandan suspects as part of renewed attempts by the Rwandan government to have him extradited to face charges of genocide. This (second) attempt at extradition began on 3 March 2014 and led to 63 days of evidence spread over 16 months. On 22 December 2015 District Court judge Emma Arbuthnot ruled that the extradition could not go ahead on the grounds the accused were at risk of not receiving a fair trial in Rwanda, a decision upheld by the High Court in its ruling of 28 July 2017. The lengthy judgment noted that Bajinya, as with the four other suspects, still has a prima facie case to answer that should be tested in a court of law, and effectively threw the responsibility back into the UK court system for trial. Interestingly, Bajinya did not claim any legal aid money to pay his defence lawyers in this second extradition case, having claimed £170,000 previously.

In January 2018, Rwandan Prosecutor General Jean Bosco Mutangana and Prosecutor Jean Bosco Siboyintore, Head of the Genocide Suspects Tracking Unit, travelled to London to request the United Kingdom to open an investigation against the five individuals suspected of having participated in the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi. They recalled the obligation of the United Kingdom to try or extradite such individuals.

On 9 April 2019, the Met Police anti-terrorism unit (S.O.15) reported that it was assessing the available evidence with a view to opening a full investigation. Ben Wallace, Minister of State for Security and Economic Crime announced that investigations concerning those five individuals might take up to five years. However, he told members of the Parliament that the UK government would provide all necessary resources at its disposal so that justice would be served. He announced that police officers were sent to Rwanda to investigate on the ground.

In September 2020, four of the five suspects, including Bajinya, were voluntarily questioned by police over suspicion of genocide and crimes against humanity. None were arrested. Met police have continued with their investigations (to the present) with no outcome yet announced.

The continuing delay and a failure to take any action – in keeping with the UK’s dire record of bringing to justice alleged genocidaire and war criminals living openly in its communities – resulted in members of the UK parliament deciding to reform their group that had originally been brought together in the late 1980s to address the former Nazi war criminals living with impunity in the UK. On 21 April 2021, the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on War Crimes announced it would ‘look into matters relating to the presence of alleged Rwandan war criminals in the UK and the prosecution of those who participated in the Rwandan genocide’.

On 26 April 2021, the Rwandan Minister of Justice and Attorney General, Johnston Busingye, held virtual discussions with the APPG, noting that “Rwanda does not seek revenge” and will not “prejudge the 5 suspects, whether they are innocent or guilty will be decided by the courts. All [Rwanda] seek[s] is that due process is followed and that justice, so far delayed, does not end up denied.”

In 2018, a Rwandan investigator, Dick Prudence Munyeshuli, who worked for Bajinya as a investigator on his defence team, was implicated in a corruption scandal at the International Tribunal in Arusha. Munyeshuli was accused of undermining justice by witness interference in attempting to overthrow the 2012 genocide conviction of Augustin Ngirabatware by the ICTR. Munyeshuli had material seized by police acting for the UN Residual Mechanism when he was arrested, some of it involving his defence work for Bajinya. On 29 June 2022 the UNMICT appeal court, case MICT- 18-116A, found Munyeshuli guilty of contempt for revealing the identity of protected witnesses in violation of a court order, and contempt also for having prohibited indirect contact with a recanting witness in knowing violation of a court order. He was sentenced to five months imprisonment.

In February 2022, the UNMICT placed under investigation the defence lawyer Peter Robinson, who had worked for Bajinya as part of his defence team fighting extradition. Robinson, who had been acting for members of the family of genocide suspect Felicien Kabuga, was suspected of presenting ‘manifestly fraudulent and incorrect evidence’ to the UN court, notably bank statements, in order to get the court to rule in their favour in the matter of the return of Kabuga’s property. (Case MICT-13-38-Misc.1).

As of September 2022, Mr Robert Herbst had been appointed by the Tribunal as investigator to look into the alleged corruption/contempt by Peter Robinson and members of Kabuga’s family, [under UNMICT Rule 90(C)] with a single judge, Mustapha El Baaj assigned to the case.

Bajinya is married to Rosalie Nyirambabazi and they have two sons.

Resources (PDFs):

BBC Inside Out: Bajinya – Report on Rwandan accused of crimes against humanity 6 Nov 2006
East African: Call to arrest all genocide suspects 7 June 2013
KT Press: UK ‘denying’ Rwandans justice 13 Aug 2017
Lawofnations blog: UK extradition refusal legal analysis 10 Oct 2017
London Eve. Standard: London doctor accused of war crimes ‘happy’ to go to court in UK 9 April 2018
UNIMICT: Bajinya – Request for safeguarding his defence material in Munyeshuli case 20 Sept 2018
The Sun: Genocide suspects run up 5 million legal bill 8 Sept 2018
Aegis Trust/Urumuri: Survivors letter to Home Secretary 9 Dec 2018
Daily Mirror: Police Question Rwandan suspects about Rwandan atrocities 15 Nov 2020
UNIRMCT: Bajinya – Former defence investigator Munyeshuli contempt appeal judgement 29 June 2022
Daily Mail: Scotland Yard detectives travel to Rwanda in genocide probe 21 Jan 2023