Serge Brammertz, Chief Prosecutor of the Residual Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals (RMICT), has told The New Times that his team of investigators has good leads and continues to tirelessly hunt for seven other Rwandan Genocide fugitives indicted by the UN court years ago
One of the eight fugitives on the UN Tribunal’s wanted list, Félicien Kabuga, a key suspected architect of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda, was arrested Saturday, May 16, in Paris, France, after more than two decades on the run.
This leaves seven others. Brammertz said his team thinks the remaining fugitives “are all still in Africa.”
“We started, three years ago, to put a new strategy in place. We are working on a number of different fronts and Saturday (arrest of Kabuga) was the first big success in this regard.
“But we continue. And we are going for them. We worked intensively with international organisations like Interpol, foreign police services in Europe and in Africa. And we have an excellent cooperation with the authorities in Kigali which, I think, makes a difference,” he said.
Despite the steps being made, Brammertz admitted issues remain just like he highlighted, mid last year, when he briefed the UN Security Council on efforts underway to arrest the eight Genocide fugitives indicted by the UN court.
Brammertz told The New Times that like he has informed the Security Council before, he has issues with some countries which are not keen on cooperating to arrest the criminals.
“For more than a year, we have sent requests to verify these individuals with some of the identities we know have been crossing borders.”
“We have, unfortunately, delays or no cooperation from a number of countries in the region; in East Africa, which are not answering our requests for cooperation. This makes it very slow and difficult”.
His message to such countries is, he noted, he believes in cooperation rather than confrontation.
But if no results come, he has no problem taking matters to the Security Council, mentioning these states and “denouncing their non-cooperation.”
The mechanism took over from the now defunct International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) established by the UN to try masterminds of the 1994 Genocide.
The seven ICTR-indicted Genocide suspects still at large
Out of the seven, only two – the so-called Big Fish – remain under the jurisdiction of the Mechanism should they be arrested.
These are Augustin Bizimana and Protais Mpiranya.
Five other cases; Fulgence Kayishema, Charles Sikubwabo, Aloys Ndimbati, Charles Ryandikayo and Phénéas Munyarugarama, were referred to Rwanda as the tribunal wound up its activities.
Another fugitive whose case was referred to Rwanda, Ladislas Ntaganzwa, was arrested in DR Congo in December 2015.
He was in the news, mid last year, after Brammertz complained to the UN Security Council about the lack of cooperation from some countries in arresting Genocide fugitives that remain at large.
Mpiranya is believe to be in South Africa.
A Major in the ex-Rwandan armed forces, Mpiranya is believed to have been a very influential figure during the Genocide. He commanded the Presidential Guard, an elite unit that took immediate charge after the death of former President Juvenal Habyarimana on the night of April 6, 1994.
He is blamed for the slaughter of top politicians as the Genocide unfolded. Among politicians killed at the onset of the Genocide were then Prime Minister, Agathe Uwilingiyimana, and her security detail of 10 Belgian peacekeepers.
Like Kabuga, Mpiranya is one of the subjects of the US Reward for Justice Programme, with a US$5 million bounty on his head.
In September 2012, after years of denial, Zimbabwe admitted that Mpiranya could be hiding there, using assumed names that included Theophase Mahuku and James Kakule, to evade arrest.
It was then reported that the fugitive coordinated his business empire from Harare to also stretch to other countries in that region,
At the time, reports indicated that Mpiranya was protected by senior officials within Zimbabwe’s ruling party, ZANU-FP, but Harare persistently refuted such claims.
The other ‘Big Fish’ is Augustin Bizimana, 66, the former Minister of Defence, who fled Rwanda in July 1994, heading to the DR Congo.
Bizimana was born in 1954 in Gituza commune, Byumba prefecture around the current Gatsibo District. He was Minister of Defence in the Interim Government that executed the Genocide. He held a similar position in the third multi-party government formed on July 18, 1993.
In all these capacities, besides exercising authority over the entire Armed Forces, he controlled the possession of weapons and explosives by the civilian population.
He was directly involved in the training of and distribution of weapons to militiamen as well as the preparation of lists of people to be eliminated. He organized, ordered and participated in the massacres.
In November 2001, Bizimana was indicted on 11 counts including conspiracy to commit genocide, Genocide, complicity in Genocide, direct and public incitement to commit genocide, murder as a crime against humanity, and extermination as a crime against humanity.
Born in Kivumu, in Kibuye – the current Karongi District - Kayishema, 60, was the inspector of the judicial police during the Genocide.
In April 1994, he ordered or planned, abetted and encouraged the destruction of the Church of Nyange, in Kivumu with more than 2,000 Tutsi trapped inside, and killed.
Born in January 1948, Munyarugarama is another former military officer wanted for taking part in the Genocide between April and July 1994.
As a Lieutenant Colonel in the genocidal army, he played an essential role in directing the systematic plan aimed at exterminating the Tutsi and took direct part in carrying out the campaign. Like hundreds others, when the genocidal regime fled into DR Congo soon after the genocide, Munyarugarama also followed.
During the Genocide, he was the highest ranking military officer and commander of Gako Military Camp in Bugesera District.
His subordinates included soldiers in the camp, other soldiers deployed around Bugesera region, reservists and members of the national gendarmerie force in Nyamata brigade, the Interahamwe militia and other civilians he used in the genocide.
In April 1994, Munyarugarama led and supervised soldiers in his camp, reservists and Interahamwe militia in a large-scale attack on thousands of refugees then hiding in the Ntarama Catholic Church grounds. His case was referred to Rwanda by the ICTR Prosecutor in 2012.
Born in the early 1950s, the former Bourgmestre of Gisovu commune in Kibuye prefecture, Ndimbati, participated in the killings of Tutsi across Kibuye between April 9 and June 30, 1994.
He is responsible for massacres of the Tutsi who sought refuge in the hills in the Bisesero region in the Kibuye prefecture and the communes of Gishyita and Gosovu.
Ndimbati was charged with genocide, complicity in genocide, direct and public incitement to commit genocide, as well as with murder, extermination, rape and persecution as crimes against humanity.
Born around 1961 in Musenyi, in the Gishyita commune of Kibuye prefecture, Ryandikayo was manager of a restaurant in Mubuga in the Gishyita commune during the Genocide.
He participated in the massacre of the Tutsi throughout the Kibuye prefecture. He also participated in the massacre of thousands of Tutsi congregated in the Catholic Parish of Mubuga, 20km from Kibuye town.
Sikubwabo served as mayor of Gishyita commune, Kibuye prefecture, from 1993 till July 1994.
According to his indictment, he played an instrumental role in the murder of the Tutsi in Kibuye region. He also personally participated in killing people. In contact with the likes of Ndimbati, he facilitated the massacres of the Tutsi who sought refuge in the Bisesero hills.Follow https://twitter.com/KarhangaJames