BURUNDI: Pierre Buyoya’s statement is Admission, at law.

By Prof. Charles Kambanda

I have read Ex President Pierre Buyoya’s Press Release, regarding Burundi government’s intention to have him arrested and prosecuted for his role in Ex-President Melchior Ndadaye’s assassination. More than a Press Release, Buyoya’s statement is Admission, at law

Buyoya’s major argument is that Arusha Agreement granted immunity to all armed groups for crimes they allegedly committed during the civil war. Buyoya advance another absurd argument that the assassination ( murder) happened two decades ago.

Both arguments do not make sense because:

(a) As a general principle at law, crimes considered heinous, including murder, have no Statute of Limitations ( SL). Certainly there is no SL for murder under Burundi’s Criminal Code. Murder suspects can be prosecuted, no matter how long ago the murder happened, if doing so is not offensive to the defendant’s right to speedy trial; this is not Statute of Limitations issue.

( b) Arusha agreement ” immunity” touches and concerns crimes all armed parties alleged committed during the war. However, President Ndadaye was not assassinated during the war and so, Buyoya or any other person cannot evoke Arusha Agreement ” immunity” for a crime that was committed before the civil war. Crimes that were committed prior to the civil war are outside Arusha agreement ” immunity”

His lawyer, if any, should pobably have tried a different argument, I think.