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A special commission that probed allegations of extrajudicial killings in Burundi has found that no such deaths took place, an official said Thursday, despite repeated claims to the contrary.
Prosecutor general Valentin Bagorikunda announced on June 12 that a special commission would probe allegations by human rights groups and others of extrajudicial killings and torture in the central African nation.
“The commission could not spot a single case of extrajudicial execution as described in the international definition of this crime,” Bagorikunda said Thursday as he presented the commission's report to diplomats in the capital Bujumbura.
Burundian human rights groups have denounced hundreds of extrajudicial killings since the country's 2010 presidential elections, which were boycotted by the opposition.
Rights groups had been dismissive of the chances the commission would find any official wrongdoing, and a diplomat at the report's presentation scoffed at its findings.
“We weren't expecting any major revelations, but this is just too much,” the diplomat said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Bagorikunda said the definition of “extrajudicial” used by investigators was: “The killing of a person or a group of people on the command of a government or one of its organs that has access to the police force”.
He said it must be shown that the person is explicitly targeted by the government.
“It is therefore clear from the result of this probe that no crime among all those documented corresponds to such a definition,” he said, accusing those who made the allegations of “lies and contradictory remarks”.
However, he said the review had led to the uncovering of cases of homicide, murder or torture and that eight suspects had been arrested during the probe, including two high-ranking police officials.
The United Nations Security Council is among the organisations that have denounced extrajudicial killings in Burundi in 2010 and 2011.
The Burundian government agreed to the probe as it finds itself increasingly under pressure from Western powers, especially from the European Union, which has voiced concern over “unacceptable” human rights violations. - Sapa-AFP