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Burandi princess wins legal battle over late King’s remains

On Tuesday, the Federal Court of Switzerland ruled that the remains of Burandi’s deposed King Mwambutsa IV remain in Switzerland; The King died in Switzerland 40 years ago. The King expressed that he didn’t wish to be returned to his homeland for burial.

King Mwambutsa IV fled Burundi in 1966 after leading the country to its independence from Belgium in July 1962. However, rivalries between the ethnic Tutsis and Hutus forced him to flee four years later. These conflicts still exist in Burundi today.

King Mwambutsa IV Bangiriceng became king of Burundi on 16 December 1915. He was invested with full ruling powers 14 years later in 1929. He saw his country go from being led by Germany to Belgium after World War I and saw it gain its independence.

Though the King gave his instructions for his burial, his daughter and the Burundian government campaigned for his remains to be returned, supposedly for a ceremony to promote national reconciliation. This was set to happen when a relative of the King gave permission for his remains to be exumed and repatriated in 2012. The King’s niece, princess Esther Kamatari, opposed this, saying her uncle’s last wishes should be honoured. And the highest court in Switzerland agreed.

The judges upheld a ruling given by a lower court in Geneva last year. Meanwhile, for the past five years, the King’s remains have been stored for safekeeping at a Geneva funeral home in a cold storage unit.

Today, Burundi is still in crisis and has been so for the last two years. It all started when President Pierre Nkurunziza ran for a third term. The United Nations estimate the termoil has left over 500 people dead.

Princess Kamatari had to flee Burundi in 1970; she went to Paris and worked as a model for several top designers.

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