KANSAS - A Burundian national suspected to have participated in the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi has been arrested in the United States.
Lazare Kobagaya, 82, is a naturalised US citizen who was arrested in the State of Kansas after it was found that he had misinformed the authorities there when he applied for citizenship in 2005.
Kobagaya, according to an indictment issued by the US Department of Justice, is accused of having spearheaded killings in the former Nyakizu Commune in the Southern Province.
Besides having had a role in the Genocide, the Burundian who resided in the former Butare Prefecture during the Genocide is accused of perjury, giving false information to the US immigration officials in his quest for citizenship.
While under oath, he had told the immigration officials in the US that he was in Burundi between 1993 and 1995, a time when the Genocide took place but after investigations, it was established that he was in Rwanda.
The National Public Prosecution Authority (NPPA) has welcomed the development saying that other countries should take heed and act on Genocide fugitives they are harbouring.
“The arrest of this man by the United States authorities sends a clear signal that anyone who had a role in the Genocide will not permanently keep out of reach of the arm of justice,” said NPPA spokesperson Augustin Nkusi.
According to a Thursday release from the US department of Justice, Kobagaya is subject to automatic revocation of his citizenship if convicted and faces imprisonment of up to 10 years.
The statement says that the accused was scheduled to appear in court yesterday before a judge in the District of Kansas.
A source from Prosecution intimated that the arrest is subsequent to an inquiry that has been ongoing which saw officials from the US Department of Justice visit Rwanda to investigate Kobagaya’s alleged role in the Genocide that left over a million Tutsi dead. He is one of the many Burundian nationals suspected in having played a role in the Genocide.
Last year, the NPPA said they had compiled a list of over 6,000 Burundians suspected of participating in the Genocide and had said that negotiations were underway to have them brought to book either in Burundi, where most of them have since returned, or in Rwanda.
Kobagaya’s arrest comes just months after; a college in the US suspended Leopold Munyakazi, another fugitive, to pave way for a judicial process to bring him to justice.
Several fugitives remain at large in the US despite most of them having Red Notices on their heads.
In an effort to apprehend those responsible for Genocide who are still at large, the Rwandan Cabinet last year mandated the Genocide Fugitives Tracking Unit (GFTU), an entity that operates under NPPA, find them and have them arrested.
The team, composed of prosecutors and investigators, is headed by John Bosco Mutangana, a senior prosecutor.