Genocide in Rwanda: One of the last wanted fugitives arrested in South Africa
One of the last four fugitives wanted for his role in the 1994 genocide of the Tutsi in Rwanda was arrested in South Africa on Wednesday and will be tried, UN prosecutors probing the case announced on Thursday. .
Fulgence Kayishema is specifically accused of killing, along with other individuals, more than 2,000 men, women, elderly and refugee children at Nyanga Church on or about April 15, 1994.
He was arrested “yesterday afternoon”, said prosecutors of the international mechanism called in to fulfill the residual functions of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR). responsible for doing. ,
Wanted for his role in the 100-day genocide that killed 800,000 Tutsi and moderate Hutu, Fulgens Kayishema had been on the run since 2001, he said in a statement.
According to the court, a former police inspector born in 1961 was charged with genocide, complicity in genocide, conspiracy to commit genocide and crimes against humanity.
South African police said in a statement that the suspect was apprehended at a wine farm in Paarl, about 60 km from Cape Town, and was living under the false name of Donatian Nibashumba.
According to the prosecution the accused “participated directly in the planning and execution” of the “massacre” of Nyangae Church in the commune of Kivumu, “particularly by procuring and distributing gasoline to burn down the church with refugees”.
“When that failed, Mr. Kayishema and others used a bulldozer to demolish the church, burying and killing the refugees inside,” he said.
In the days that followed, the accused and others allegedly oversaw the transfer of bodies from the church to mass graves.
“The survivors of the massacre have tried to demonize his crimes and demand his arrest,” Naftali Ahishakiye, executive secretary of Ibuka’s umbrella association of survivors, told AFP.
He hopes the arrest sends a clear message to other fugitives and masterminds of the massacre, “that they can never escape justice.”
Mr Kayishema’s arrest “guarantees that he will be brought to justice for the crimes of which he is accused”, the system’s prosecutor Serge Brammertz was quoted in a press release. “Genocide is the gravest crime known to humanity,” he said.
– Aliases and false documents –
Prosecutors say Mr Kaishema used multiple aliases and false documents and relied on a “network of trusted supporters” to conceal his identity and appearance.
Among these supporters were members of his family, former Rwandan Armed Forces members and the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda, “as well as supporters of the genocidal ideology of Hutu Power”, he said.
Mr Brammertz praised the cooperation of South African officials and indicated that he had received “significant” support from Rwandan officials in Eswatini (formerly Swaziland) and Mozambique, and other African countries.
Many Rwandans have been convicted by their own country, international justice, or Western justice for acts related to the 1994 Genocide of the Tutsi.
The ICTR sentenced 62 people, most notably former Rwandan minister Augustine Ngirabatware, to 30 years in prison.
Mechanism prosecutors said they have found five fugitives since 2020.
These include Augustin Bizimana, one of the main architects of the genocide, as well as Proteus Mpiranya and Fenius Munyarugarama, who died without facing international justice.
The trial of alleged genocide financier Felicien Kabuga was set to begin in September 2022 but was postponed in March while it is decided whether he is healthy enough to remain in the courtroom.
South African law enforcement officials said Kaishema would appear at Cape Town Magistrates’ Court on Friday 26 May for extradition to Rwanda.
Ahishakiye said, “We hope that his trial will be expedited and that the justice system will not experience the kind of delays that happened in the Kabuga trial.”
According to the court, there are only three fugitives left under the jurisdiction of the system today.