Top Rwanda genocide suspect seized in Congo: U.N. court

Reuters News
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Posted: May 25, 2011 5:41 PM
Top Rwanda genocide suspect seized in Congo: U.N. court

By George Obulutsa

NAIROBI (Reuters) - Authorities in the Democratic Republic of Congo have arrested one of the masterminds of Rwanda's 1994 genocide, a United Nations court handling their cases said on Wednesday.

The Tanzania-based International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) said Bernard Munyagishari, a former Hutu militia leader, was wanted on charges of genocide and crimes against humanity, including rape.

"The ICTR Prosecutor, Justice Hassan Bubacar Jallow, announced today the arrest in the DRC of ICTR fugitive Bernard Munyagishari (52), former President of the Interahamwe for Gisenyi, who was arrested in ... Kachanga, North Kivu," the court said in a statement.

Ethnic Hutu militia and soldiers butchered 800,000 minority Tutsis and politically moderate Hutus over 100 days between April and June 1994.

Munyagishari, born in 1959 in Rubavu commune in Gisenyi prefecture, was among those who featured in the U.S. State Department's Rewards for Justice program, with a reward of up to $5 million for his capture.

The court said he was arrested in an operation involving the Congolese army and the ICTR's tracking unit and was in detention in Goma awaiting transfer to the court in Arusha, Tanzania.

"The Prosecutor hailed the DRC authorities for their cooperation in executing the warrant of arrest despite the hurdles encountered in tracking down the fugitive in difficult terrain," it said.

"The accused is alleged to have recruited, trained and led Interahamwe militiamen in mass killings and rapes of Tutsi women in Gisenyi and beyond, between April and July 1994."

The ICTR said that after his arrest, nine of those it says were most responsible for the slaughter were still at large.

Since its establishment in late 1994, the court has delivered 46 judgments of which eight were acquittals. Another nine cases are on appeal.

(Editing by Philippa Fletcher)