Police in the Swedish city of Stockholm on Wednesday arrested former Director General of the Civil Aviation Authority, Sylvere Ahorugeze, who is accused of having masterminded the 1994 Genocide.
The development was confirmed yesterday by the Rwandan Ambassador to Sweden Jacqueline Mukangira by telephone.
“He had accompanied his wife to the embassy. She wanted to have a Rwandan passport and to be registered for the new identity card,” said Mukangira.
According to John Bosco Mutangana who is in charge of the Genocide Fugitives Tracking Unit, Ahorugeze is accused of having participated in the killing of hundreds of Tutsis especially in Gikondo, a Kigali City suburb.
“He personally exterminated families of Tutsis with an automatic rifle with which he freely moved throughout the Genocide…we know about these families but we cannot reveal their names for security purposes of the surviving members,” Mutangana said.
According to prosecution, Ahorugeze had first been arrested in Denmark but was subsequently released provisionally under unclear grounds.
“We had provided compelling evidence to the Danish prosecutors including forensic results of the atrocities by this man but it remains a surprise that he was later released,” Mutangana said.
Mukangira thanked the Swedish police authorities for their swift intervention. He was arraigned yesterday and despite efforts by his lawyer to have him released; the Swedish court ruled that he be detained for 40 days as further investigations continue.
Meanwhile, Mutangana said that the fugitive had earlier made a request to be tried by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR).
Justice Minister Tharcisse Karugarama said that this arrest had been long overdue given the fact that Ahorugeze has been on an Interpol wanted list for a long time. He also wondered why the Danish authorities released him on bail despite all the evidence against him.
“There was a lot of both forensic and direct evidence against this man and they decided to release him as investigations were still going on,” said Karugarama, who also doubles as the Attorney General.
Ahorugeze is said to have been very active in meetings that used to convene at Bar Nyenyeri in Gikondo, meetings that plotted the wiping out of all Tutsis who resided in the area.
Karugarama said that the government would be looking forward to the extradition of the fugitive to Rwanda for trial, “but it remains a process so we have to be patient.”
Ahorugeze is reported to have travelled to Sweden to secure a visa for his wife. He is the fifth Genocide fugitive to be arrested since the beginning of this year, and it should be noted that all the arrests were made on European soil.
No arrest from an African country has been secured in years save for Callixte Nzabonimana, a former minister who turned himself in at the ICTR last year.
Several others indicted by the Rwandan Prosecution have remained untouched, most of them being in the southern African countries.
According to Karugarama, the reason there have been limited arrests in Africa is the lack of equipment to track them.
“It is easier for the fugitives to remain in the jungles of Africa where there are no sophisticated airport facilities that would easily identify them,” said the minister.
He added that the next alternative will be to have bilateral efforts with particular countries to cooperate in arresting those fugitives residing there.
Most fugitives have been reported in southern African states including Zimbabwe, Zambia, Mozambique and Malawi, while others are in the Democratic Republic of Congo.