Islington “genocide” doctor bailed by High Court judge who raised concern over Julian Assange-style asylum bid
- Credit: Archant
An Islington doctor accused of masterminding mass murder was this week bailed by a High Court judge who ruled there is more incentive for the 52-year-old to “clear his name” than flee the country over the charges.
Vincent Brown, a British national since 2004, stands accused of taking part in the Rwandan genocide of 1994, which saw hundreds of thousands of men, women and children slaughtered.
Earlier this month, the Gazette revealed how the doctor, who lives off Calshot Street, is again fighting extradition to his home country after being arrested for a second time over the allegations.
He was first arrested in 2006 but released in 2009 after the High Court ruled he would not face a fair trial if extradited to Rwanda.
This week, Judge Duncan Ouseley released Dr Brown as he continues to fight extradition while campaigning for a trial to take place in the UK instead.
Judge Ouseley raised fears the doctor would attempt a Julian Assange-style embassy lock-in by claiming asylum elsewhere, but decided to bail him at Monday’s hearing.
He said: “These are extremely serious offences in a country destroyed by genocide.
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“Because of the gravity of the offence and the length of likely punishment, I have given this particularly careful consideration.
“I’m not satisfied that at present there are substantial grounds he will abscond.”
He added: “In the case of Dr Brown, he has campaigned actively in this country for his charges of genocide to be tried here – a situation made easier by recent legislative changes.”
Judge Ouseley said it would be “heartless” not to consider that Dr Brown has a family and “a stable home and a desire to make some good use of his time”.
As a result there is a “clear incentive to try and clear his name”, the judge ruled, before bailing him from Belmarsh. Dr Brown, who settled in Islington in 2000 after fleeing Rwanda in 1994 with his family, will have to wear an electronic tag, stay inside his home between 9pm and 6am and is not allowed to step outside the borough.
The court heard there were “high level” discussions at the Home Office between the UK and Rwanda in the run-up to Dr Brown’s second arrest on May 30.
Monday’s hearing also heard that evidence against Dr Brown had been “fabricated” by the Rwandan government.
Alun Jones QC, representing him, told the court that during a fact-finding mission to the African country the legal team found up to nine of the witnesses testifying against the doctor have been in prison in Rwanda since 1994 and are awaiting their own trials.
“We went to Rwanda and collected evidence ourselves. The evidence against him has been fabricated. There is a real risk he would suffer a flagrant denial of justice.”
He said it was “profoundly controversial” for Rwanda to claim it can now offer a fair trial just four years after the first request for extradition was refused by the High Court in 2009, adding: “It is an extraordinary thing to do and it is oppressive. There are no grounds to believe he is likely to abscond. He hasn’t done so far even though he knew there were likely to be fresh proceedings,” Mr Jones said.
Speaking of his client’s wish to be tried in the UK, he said: “For some reason, which is not clear, there has been no prosecution in this country when it is plainly possible.”
Former Canon Theologian of Westminster Abbey, Nicholas Sagovsky, attended court to support the doctor, who also has two children aged 21 and 16, who sat beside their mother in court.
But Gemma Lindfield, representing he Rwandan government, said: “The applicants have made it clear they do not wish to return to Rwanda and we submit that should their extradition be ordered [or come close to being ordered] they will abscond.”
Dr Brown’s appeal was heard alongside Emmanuel Nteziryayo’s, another Rwandan, who was also bailed. The pair are two of five Rwandan men living in the UK fighting extradition over genocide claims.
Rosalie Brown, Dr Brown’s wife of 25 years, hailed the bail decision. She said: “We feel there is hope that justice will be done and that Vincent can clear his name so the family can continue to live together.
“We are happy the family can now be together. A family is a father, a mother and children together. Once Vincent was missing it was a big gap.
“Vincent will continue to fight as he always has. We could not have got through it if he had had to spend another three years in prison.
“It was destroying us. We can fight the case together as a family now.”