Police in Uganda have arrested one of the four most wanted suspects from Rwanda’s 1994 genocide, Idelphonse Nizeyimana, after he entered the country by bus last week from neighbouring DRC.
A former Rwandan army captain and senior intelligence officer, Nizeyimana is accused of organising the slaughter of Tutsi civilians and ordering the murder a former Queen of Rwanda.
He was caught earlier this week in a suburb of the Ugandan capital Kampala then extradited to Arusha in northern Tanzania to face trial at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR).
The United States had offered a $5-million reward for his capture. The UN court says Nizeyimana and others prepared lists of Tutsi intellectuals and those in authority in Rwanda before handing the lists to troops and militia who killed them.
He is accused of setting up roadblocks where Tutsi civilians were slaughtered, and of providing weapons and transport to militia in the knowledge they were being used for such attacks.
The ICTR says Nizeyimana also sent soldiers to the home of the former Queen of Rwanda, Rosalie Gicanda a symbolic figure for all Tutsis who then executed her on his orders.
Some 800 000 ethnic Tutsis and politically moderate Hutus were killed in just 100 days of bloodshed in 1994. Nizeyimana is charged by the UN tribunal with genocide, complicity in genocide, and direct and public incitement to commit genocide.
Ugandan police spokesperson Judith Nabakoba told Reuters that Interpol had been tracking him since October 1 when he crossed the border at Bunagana from lawless eastern DRC. It was not immediately clear why he had chosen to leave Congo.
“Chief killer in Butare”
“Although we were aware of his presence in Uganda for a couple of days now, we couldn’t arrest him immediately before we could cross-check thoroughly to ensure he was the person we were looking for,” Nabakoba said.
Rwanda’s government, which says Nizeyimana was the main organiser of the genocide in the southern province of Butare, said he had spent the 15 years since then fighting for a Hutu rebel group in the forests of neighbouring Congo.
“In Kinyarwanda his name would translate as ‘I believe in God,’ which unfortunately is not the case. He believes in death,” said Rwandan Justice Minister Tharcisse Karugarama.
“He was an agitator, a handler, the chief killer in Butare,” Karugarama told Reuters by telephone.
“The arrest of this man is a very big relief to survivors of the genocide.”
In a statement, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon welcomed his capture and said it marked an important step forward in the fight against impunity in Africa’s volatile Great Lakes region.
It was the second big arrest in about two months.
Gregoire Ndahimana, a local administrator in Rwanda during the genocide, was caught in August by Congolese troops during UN-backed operations against Hutu rebels from the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR).
He was transferred to the ICTR in Tanzania last month.
Pic: Rwanda memories