Monday, 4 November 2013

UN court says closing in on Genocide ‘big fish’


Felicien Kabuga is one of the three most wanted Genocide fugitives.

Top officials from the Mechanism of the International Criminal Tribunals (MICT) have said that the days of the three most wanted Genocide fugitives could be numbered because they have obtained information that could lead to their arrest.

This was said by the MICT Chief Prosecutor, Hassan Bubacar Jallow, following a meeting with Rwandan Prosecutor General Richard Muhumuza at the latter’s office in Kigali yesterday.

The three fugitives, have been labelled the “Big Fish” because of their central role in the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi which claimed at least a million lives. They include Felicien Kabuga, the alleged financier of the Genocide, Protais Mpiranya, the former commandant of the notorious Presidential Guards, and the then defence minister Augustin Bizimana.

Speaking during a news briefing, Jallow, who was leading a team of judges and officials from the Mechanism, said that efforts were underway to track, arrest and bring the suspects to book.

“There is a lot of work going on, tracking is a sensitive operation, you can’t share the information you have about their movements, otherwise it would defeat the whole purpose of tracking them. But I can assure you there is a lot of information being gathered, and we have indications and confidence that in the not so distant future we will be able to secure their arrest,” said Jallow.

Jallow is also the immediate former Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), whose mandate was taken over by the MICT.

The delegation includes former ICTR president Judge Theodor Meron, who is now the the president of the Mechanism.

As part of the ICTR’s completion strategy, six case files of Genocide suspects who are still at large were sent to Rwanda, but the Tribunal refused to hand over the ‘big fish’, saying that these will be handled by the MICT.

In reference to the trio, Jallow added that, “They will continue running but they will be arrested at some point, it is in their best interest to surrender and submit themselves to this fair judicial process in which the judges will decide their guilt or innocence with evidence.”

According to the Prosecutor General Muhumuza, Rwanda will always share any information concerning these three men with the Tanzania-based Mechanism.

“We keep encouraging different sources to feed us with information regarding their whereabouts and share this information with the MICT. We have established an international crimes unit which deals with cases of fugitives,” said Muhumuza.

Several reports have in the past suggested that Kabuga could be in Kenya although Kenyan authorities have vehemently denied knowing his whereabouts, while, in February 2010, Mpiranya was reported by Belgian authorities to be in Zimbabwe where he operated a business.

Bizimana who is charged with conspiracy to commit genocide and eliminate leaders of the political opposition during the Genocide, is suspected to be living in Democratic Republic of Congo.

In recent years, he is also suspected to have  travelled to Angola, Guinea, Kenya and the Republic of Congo.

Mpiranya’s Presidential Guards are particularly said to be responsible for the killing of dissenting politicians at the beginning of the Genocide. The slain politicians include  former Prime Minister Agathe Uwiringiyimana.

The elite soldiers were throughout the Genocide used to reinforce the Interahamwe militias and the former government regular forces.

Meanwhile, Kabuga who was a famous wealthy businessman and a core member of the Akazu, a small clique of masterminds of the Genocide, was also one of the key shareholders of the infamous hate media house, Radio Television des Milles Collines (RTLM), which was greatly used to incite the Genocide.

Many perpetrators of the Genocide remain holed up in the neighbouring DRC, mainly as fighters in the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) militia.

UN court says closing in on Genocide ‘big fish’


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