- The former senior Rwandan military officer indicted by the United Nations war crimes tribunal for his role in the 1994 genocide was handed over to the court today after being on the run for nearly nine years.
Idelphonse Nizeyimana, the second fugitive to be delivered to the court in two months, is the former second in command for intelligence and military operations at an officers’ school.
He was arrested in Kampala, Uganda, yesterday by the National Central Bureau of Interpol in collaboration with the tracking team of the UN International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) and transferred today to the court’s detention facility in Arusha, Tanzania.
Mr Nizeyimana, who faces five counts of genocide or complicity in genocide, direct and public incitement to commit genocide, and crimes against humanity, including ordering the execution of former Rwandan Queen Rosalie Gicanda, a symbolic figure for all Tutsis, is one of four top accused earmarked to be tried as part of the ICTR completion strategy.
Eleven accused are still at large out of the 81 people indicted for serious violations of international humanitarian law committed in Rwanda in 1994, when an estimated 800,000 ethnic Tutsis and Hutu moderates were killed by Hutu militants, mainly by machete, during a period of less than 100 days.
Mr Nizeyimana, through the chain of command, is alleged to have exercised authority over soldiers and personnel and was perceived as a member of the elite inner circle (Akazu) of the late President Juvenal Habyarimana.
In August Grégoire Ndahimana, a high-level figure in the rebel Forces démocratiques de libération du Rwanda (FDLR), was arrested in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and later handed over to ICTR in a transfer facilitated by the UN Mission in the DRC, known as MONUC.
MONUC said Mr Nizeyimana was also a key FDLR leader. “In this context, his arrest is an important step forward in the fight against impunity and strongly signals the Great Lakes region’s commitment to peace and security,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a statement welcoming the arrest.
This is the second time that Uganda has cooperated with the ICTR, which commended Interpol and the Ugandan authorities for their close cooperation. “It is hoped that the ICTR will continue receiving similar support from other member states at this critical junction of its work,” the tribunal said in a statement.
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