Relatives of American tourists who were hacked to death by Rwandan militia members 20 years ago were stunned when it was revealed this week that their loved ones’ accused murderers were allowed to quietly resettle in Australia, according to new reports.
The men who confessed to being part of the 1999 attack in Uganda and were extradited to the US. But the charges against them were dropped in 2006 after a judge ruled their confessions were obtained through torture, and they spent more than a decade locked up while fighting deportation, claiming they would be persecuted back in Rwanda.
A bombshell Politico report this week revealed two of the accused killers were allowed to secretly settle in Australia in November 2018 as part of a refugee swap — which came as unwelcome news to the relatives of the victims.
“[They] say ‘I don’t want to go to Rwanda, I don’t want them to hurt me,’” DeAnne Haubner Norton — whose brother Robert and his wife Susan Miller were on their honeymoon when they were among the eight tourists brutally butchered in the attack — told the told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
“Well my brother was probably saying the same thing as [they] were taking a weapon to him,” she added, calling the deal “clearly bad and a dud.”
The Australian father of British victim Steven Roberts said only he learned his son’s formerly accused killers were also living Down Under after he saw it on the news.
“After 20 years, you start to get over it a little bit and get on with life a little easier, and this has just brought it all back, really totally unnecessarily,” David Roberts told the ABC.
Addressing media in the wake of the report, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison acknowledged the deal — but stressed that the case against the men had been dismissed.
“These specific allegations were reviewed by our security agencies and by our immigration authorities and they were not found to be upheld,” Morrison said. “As a result, they were allowed to come to Australia.”
“I know what the claims are. But the claims and facts are different,” he added.