The New Times (Kigali)

22 December 2012

Rwanda: U.S. Renews Call for Arrest of Genocide Fugitives

THE United States government has made a fresh appeal for the arrest of Genocide fugitives still at large.

The call comes a day after the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) sentenced Augustin Ngirabatware, a former government minister for his role in the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.

Ngirabatware was on Thursday sentenced to 35 years in prison for genocide, incitement to commit genocide, and rape as a crime against humanity.

A statement issued on Friday by the Spokesperson of the US Department of State, Victoria Nuland, raised concern that there are still nine ICTR fugitives at-large, including the three 'Big Fish' who will be prosecuted by the residual mechanism of the ICTR upon capture.

The trio include Genocide Financier Félicien Kabuga, the then head of the notorious presidential guard Protais Mpiranya, and Augustin Bizimana who was the Minister of Defence.

The fugitives are all believed to be hiding on the African continent.

"We urge all countries to redouble their cooperation with the ICTR so that fugitives can be arrested. Those who harbour fugitives obstruct justice and stand on the wrong side of history," Nuland said.

Charged of Genocide by the ICTR and branded a terrorist by the United States of America, Kabuga has managed to elude the hands of international justice, even with a ransom of $5m still hanging over his head.

Kabuga is believed to be hiding in Kenya. While for Mpiranya after years of denial, the Zimbabwean government recently admitted that one of the most wanted Genocide fugitives, could be hiding in the southern African country.

Nuland reaffirmed that the US continues to offer monetary rewards of up to US$5 million for information leading to the arrest or transfer of each of the ICTR fugitives, whether those individuals will be prosecuted by the residual mechanism of the ICTR or in Rwandan courts.

Meanwhile, the US welcomed the sentence handed to Ngirabatware.

"The United States welcomes this ruling as an important step in providing justice and accountability for the Rwandan people and the international community," the statement said.

As the Rwandan minister of planning at the time of the genocide in 1994, Ngirabatware was accused of using funds from his department to finance the genocide, the statement aid.

It added, "He was a fugitive from justice until his arrest in Germany in 2007. With the conclusion of this trial, judgments have now been rendered as to all of the 81 arrested persons who were tried at the ICTR."

Other six fugitives are slated to be tried in Rwandan courts once they are captured.

"The conviction sends a strong signal that the international community will not rest until the remaining fugitives are brought to account," added Nuland.

Ngirabatware is the last person to be tried by tribunal which will now only hear appeal cases.

The ICTR is due to close business in 2014 after it has finalised 16 appeal cases. It has indicted 93 persons for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes but 10 were acquitted later much to the chagrin of genocide survivors.

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