One of the four fugitives from the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda has been captured. Fulgence Kayishema was arrested on Wednesday in Paarl, South Africa, the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals, a UN court that tries genocide suspects, announced.
Kayishema was charged in 2001 with genocide for orchestrating the killing of more than 2,000 Tutsi men, women and children inside a Catholic church.
In a statement, the court described Kayishema as “one of the world’s most wanted genocide fugitives.”
The prosecutor explains that the arrest of this man, who had used various aliases and false documents, was made possible thanks to an international operation involving many countries.
According to the indictment, Kayishema was directly involved in planning and carrying out the massacre, including procuring and distributing gasoline to burn down the church with the refugees inside. When this failed, Kayishema and others used a bulldozer to collapse the building, burying and killing the refugees inside. They then supervised the removal of the bodies from the church grounds to mass graves.
Since 2020, the UN court has found the whereabouts of five fugitives accused of the Rwandan genocide. Now there are only three fugitives left.
The International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals performs essential functions previously performed by international tribunals for Rwanda, which closed in December 2015, the former Yugoslavia, which closed two years later.
finally before justice
Kayishema had been free since 2001 and was one of the four remaining fugitives from the genocide, during which an estimated one million people were killed and up to 250,000 women raped in a period of approximately 100 days.
The Mechanism’s chief prosecutor, Serge Brammertz, stated that his arrest ensures that the long-time fugitive will finally face justice for his alleged crimes.
“Genocide is the most serious crime known to humanity. The international community has pledged to ensure that their perpetrators will be prosecuted and punished. This arrest is a tangible demonstration that this commitment does not waver and that justice will be done, no matter what it takes,” he added.
International aid to justice
Brammertz said the thorough investigation that led to the arrest was made possible by the support and cooperation of South Africa and the Operational Task Force established by President Cyril Ramaphosa to assist the Mechanism’s Fugitive Tracking Team.
They also received “vital support” from similar task forces in other African countries, notably Eswatini and Mozambique.
“The Rwandan authorities, under the leadership of Attorney General Aimable Havugiyaremye, continued to be our staunchest partners and provided essential assistance,” he said.
The Attorney General also cited the support of other countries, including the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom, stating that “Kayishema’s arrest demonstrates once again that justice can be guaranteedwhatever the difficulties, through direct cooperation between international and national law enforcement agencies”.
Kayishema was charged by the UN International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda in 2001 with the crimes of genocide, complicity to commit genocide, conspiracy to commit genocide, and crimes against humanity for murders and other crimes committed in Kivumu commune, Kibuye prefecture. , during the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda.
According to the indictment, he and other co-perpetrators murdered more than 2,000 refugees – men, women, the elderly and children – at the Nyange church in Kivumu commune on April 15, 1994 by participating “directly in the planning and execution of ” of the massacre, working methodically for the next two days to transfer the bodies to mass graves.
a new step forward
The arrest represents “a new step forward” in the effort to account for all the fugitives who remain at large and who have been accused by the International Tribunal.
Since 2020, the Fugitive Location Team of the Prosecutor’s Office has accounted for five of the fugitives released, including another of the architects of the genocide orchestrated by the extremist Hutu regime of the time, Félicien Kabuga, as well as Augustin Bizimana, Protais Mpiranya and Pheneas Munyarugarama. At present there are only three fugitives.