Monday, June 5, 2023

Last Rwandan genocide fugitive arrested in South Africa

He is charged with the killing of about 2000 Tutsi Rwandans who took refuge in a catholic church in the Kivumu district.

• May 25, 2023
Fulgence Kayishema
Fulgence Kayishema (Credit: BBC)

Fulgence Kayishema, a former judicial police inspector who played an active role in the 1994 Rwandan genocide, was arrested on Thursday in South Africa, according to UN investigators.

Since 800,000 Rwandans, mostly from the Tutsi tribe were butchered in the tragic genocide of 1994, the key actors in the genocide have been on the run, evading justice.

Fulgence Kayishema is one of the last four remaining fugitives sought for their role in the Rwandan genocide.

The International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (MICT) announced the arrest of Mr Kayishema in a statement.

“Yesterday afternoon, Fulgence Kayishema – one of the world’s most wanted genocide fugitives – was arrested in Paarl, South Africa in a joint operation,” MICT said.

Mr Kayishema faces charges of crime against humanity, genocide, and complicity and conspiracy to commit genocide.

According to the MICT website, Mr Kayishema was born in 1961 and has been on the run since 2001.

He is charged with the killing of about 2000 Tutsi Rwandans who took refuge in a catholic church in the Kivumu district.

“Kayishema directly participated in the planning and execution of this massacre, including by procuring and distributing petrol to burn down the church with the refugees inside,” the statement said.

“When this failed, Kayishema and others used a bulldozer to collapse the church, burying and killing the refugees inside.

“Kayishema and others then supervised the transfer of corpses from the church grounds into mass graves over the next approximately two days.”

MICT chief prosecutor Serge Brammertz explained that Mr. Kayishema has been a fugitive for over 20 years, and his arrest means he will now finally be facing justice.

The MICT took over the task of hunting down Rwandan genocide fugitives in 2015 from the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) set up by the United Nations after the genocide.

The MICT based in Hague and Tanzania is currently in charge of tracking down Rwandan genocide fugitives and bringing them to justice.

Meanwhile, in Kigali, community-based courts are used to try and sentence genocide suspects.

About 2 million people have been tried in these community-based courts with about 65% of them convicted and sent to jail.

The Rwandan genocide in 1994 claimed over 800,000 lives leaving a very sore spot in the African story.

The Kigali genocide memorial commemorates the dark days of the genocide.

It holds the remains of over 250,000 victims of the genocide and is frequently visited by tourists and scholars looking to understand what happened in those days.

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