Fugitive Rwandan police officer charged in killings of over 2,000 during 1994 genocide

  • Fulgenius Keshima, the police officer who planned to kill more than 2,000 people in a church during the Rwandan genocide, has been arrested in South Africa after 22 years on the run.
  • Kaeshima assumed a false identity after fleeing justice in 2001, an attempt that was successful until he was captured in a multinational fugitive tracking operation.
  • “[Kayishema’s] The arrest gives survivors hope that other fugitive suspects will also be apprehended,” said Naftal Ahshakye, executive secretary of Ibuka, a Rwandan genocide survivors’ organization.

One of Rwanda’s most wanted genocide suspects, a police officer suspected of plotting the killing of more than 2,000 people in a church nearly three decades ago, has been arrested in South Africa after 22 years on the run. Held, a special tribunal has been constituted. gave United Nations Thursday said to find the culprits.

Fulgenius Keshima was arrested on Wednesday at a vineyard in Paarl, a small town in the wine-growing region 30 miles east of Cape Town, the International Remaining Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (IRMCT) said.

South African police said Kaishima, believed to be in his early 60s, assumed a false identity and was named Donatien Nibashumba.

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He was captured in a joint operation by the tribunal’s fugitive tracking team and South African authorities, the tribunal said, and had been tracked to several African countries, including Mozambique and Eswatini, since his indictment in 2001.

The United States, through its Rewards for Justice program, offered a $5 million reward for information leading to Kaishima’s capture.

More than 800,000 people were killed in the Rwandan genocide, which took place over a three-month period in 1994 when members of the Hutu ethnic group attacked, slaughtered the minority Tutsis and moderate Hutu who tried to protect them. of

“His arrest gives hope to the survivors that other fugitive suspects will also be arrested,” said Naftal Ahshakiye, executive secretary of the The Rwandan Genocide Survivor organization Ibuka. “The crime of genocide is too serious to go unpunished.”

Kashima was indicted by the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda on charges of genocide, complicity in genocide, conspiracy to commit genocide and crimes against humanity for killings and other crimes. were gone The tribunal said he was absconding since 2001.

Former Rwandan police inspector Filgenes Keshima has been arrested for his suspected role in the 1994 Rwandan genocide. (International Outstanding Mechanisms for Criminal Tribunals via AP)

The tribunal said he was accused of orchestrating the killing of more than 2,000 ethnic Tutsi refugees – men, women and children – in a Catholic church on April 15, 1994, during the first days of the genocide.

The indictment alleges that Kaishima, then a police inspector, directly participated in the planning and execution of the massacre by obtaining gasoline to burn the church and with those trapped inside. Burned the church. When this failed, Keshima and others used a bulldozer to demolish the church, burying and killing the people inside, including young children but also many elderly men and women. The indictment alleges that Keshima and others then moved the bodies from the church grounds to mass graves within two days.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres welcomed Kaeshima’s apprehension, which “sends a powerful message that those accused of such crimes cannot escape justice and must finally be held accountable,” his spokesman said. Ga, even a quarter of a century later,” his spokesman said.

The UN chief appreciated the cooperation between the two countries. South Africa And the Rwandan tribunal that led to Keshima’s arrest, UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said. Today his thoughts are “first and foremost” with the victims of Kashima’s alleged crimes and their families, and he stressed that “an end to impunity is essential for peace, security and justice.”

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South African police said Kaishima will appear in a courtroom in Cape Town on Friday before being extradited to Rwanda.

The International Remaining Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals was created in 2010 to continue to investigate atrocities and prosecute suspects in the Rwandan genocide and war crimes during the ethnic conflicts in the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s and early 2000s. Continue searching.

“Fulgenus Keshima has been on the run for more than 20 years. His arrest ensures that he will finally face justice for his alleged crimes,” IRMCT Chief Prosecutor Serge Brammertz said in a statement. “Genocide is the most serious crime known to humanity. The international community is committed to ensuring that those who commit it are prosecuted and punished. This arrest shows that is concrete evidence that this determination will not fade and that justice will be done, no matter how long it takes.”

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The tribunal said it has now traced five suspects wanted since 2020 in the Rwandan genocide. He is still looking for three more fugitives.

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