KIGALI - Ugandan authorities together with Interpol, last week, arrested one of the most wanted Genocide fugitives, Augustin Nkundabazungu, and immediately extradited him to Rwanda.
He is charged with committing Genocide and crimes against humanity.
According to the Prosecutor General Martin Ngoga, Nkundabazungu, one of the two leading masterminds of the infamous Murambi massacres during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, was arrested in the Ugandan western district of Mbarara.
His extradition follows the arrest and transfer from Uganda to the Tanzania-based International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) of two other Genocide suspects, Jean Bosco Uwinkindi and Ildephonse Nizeyimana.
Ngoga said that Nkundabazungu, a former cashier of Commune Murambi, eastern Rwanda, was one of the many Genocide fugitives in the region against whom the Rwandan government has issued arrest warrants.
The suspect is said to have worked closely with former Murambi Bourgmastre (Mayor), Jean Baptiste Gatete, and the former Bougmastre of Muvumba Commune, Onesphore Rwabukombe, during the Genocide. Gatate is on trial at the ICTR in Arusha, Tanzania, while Rwabukombe is still on the run.
Ngoga said that despite Rwanda having issued indictments through Interpol, most African countries were yet to cooperate in the hunt for the indicted Genocide suspects.
“In the recent past, we complained about some African countries not cooperating in bringing Genocide fugitives to book. We complained about suspects in Malawi, Zambia and Mozambique who were not being sufficiently pursued as we had requested,” explained Ngonga.
“There were reactions then, a certain fugitive was arrested in Malawi but he was released a day later for some reasons we have never understood. He went to Zimbabwe, we pursued him from there; he went to Belgium where he was arrested, but still fled to Norway. He was however arrested from there and is still in custody.”
Ngoga added that there are still many fugitives in the three Southern African countries as they are in other neighbouring countries. He described the recent arrests in Uganda as a sign of growing cooperation.
He commended the Eastern African nation, adding that African countries should take the lead in arresting and extraditing Genocide fugitives. He said that some European countries have been doing relatively better, although Rwanda has not successfully managed to secure any extradition.
On the ICTR, the Prosecutor General observed that the UN tribunal was yet to honour its pledge to transfer to Rwanda some cases, although the latter did everything required to handle the cases.
Ngoga said that there was a possibility that some countries have deliberately dragged their feet in arresting Genocide fugitives due to what he referred to as “unknown reasons”.
He, however, said that Rwanda will continue to push for the arrest of these fugitives wherever they are.
Who is Nkundabazungu?
Augustin Nkundabazungu was born in Kiziguro in the former Murambi Commune to Gabriel Kamunuga and Musabende in 1953. He was the leader of Interahamwe militia in Kiziguro and is said to have been instrumental in the planning of the Genocide in that region.
He is said to have chaired a meeting on April 9, 1994 to plan the murder of Tutsis who had sought refuge at Kiziguro Catholic Church and went on to execute the plan two days later.
In 1990, he reportedly collaborated with Gatete to kill Tutsis they suspected of conspiring with the then rebels of the RPF Inkotanyi.
Nkundabazungu is said to have rounded up 11 suspected RPF accomplices who were taken to Byumba through Ngarama and were murdered.
In 1994, he allegedly mobilised and oversaw the training of Interahamwe militias near Lake Muhazi.
On 11th of April, 94, Nkundabazungu, armed with a gun, led an attack on Kiziguro Catholic Church, where 3000 people were massacred.
Throughout the Genocide he is said to have supervised and coordinated several death squads in the eastern part of the country.
Most of his accomplices were sentenced by Gacaca Courts and are detained in Ntsinda prison in Kayonza District.