On the Run for Decades, a Fugitive of Rwanda’s Genocide Is Finally Caught

For more than 20 years, Fulgenius Kaishima, one of the world’s most wanted fugitives from the Rwandan genocide, eluded authorities who say he killed more than 2,000 Tutsis during the genocide. was planned.

He remained a fugitive, hiding among refugees in several countries, and hiding behind various aliases.

This week, police finally caught him in South Africa.

Mr Kaishima, 61, was arrested on Wednesday at a grape farm outside Cape Town, authorities said. A multinational team including the South African police and the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda laid a wide net to catch him.

Mr. Kaeshima has been one of the tribunal’s most wanted fugitives since he was indicted in 2001. Serge Brammertz, the tribunal’s chief prosecutor. According to the indictment, Mr. Kaishima was a chief police inspector in 1994, who oversaw and participated in the massacre of civilians for several days.

“He was not only organized and planning, but he was also involved,” Mr. Brammertz said.

Mr Kaeshima faces multiple charges of genocide and will now be extradited to Tanzania, where he will be tried by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda.

credit…International Outstanding Mechanisms for Criminal Tribunals, by Associated Press

As the genocide in Rwanda began in April 1994, more than 2,000 women, children and elderly Tutsi civilians sought refuge in Nyange Parish Church in Kiwomu commune, west of the capital Kigali. The Catholic Church was soon surrounded by the Hutu Interahamwe militia. Instead of intervening, police officers helped the killers along with Mr. Keshima, prosecutors say.

While the stabbing took too long, Mr. Kaishima is believed to have obtained gasoline that he and others poured over the church before throwing grenades through the windows, prosecutors said. He and his colleagues drove a bulldozer onto the church, crushing the survivors. He then oversaw the digging of mass graves in the church grounds, according to the charges.

“He really took advantage of his position to prepare and commit these major crimes,” Mr. Brammertz said.

Aloys Rwamasirabo was one of the handful who survived the attack. She remembers running for her life in the dark, but her nine children and three sisters were among those killed in the church. Now 67, he feared he would never see justice. He wants the authorities to bring Mr. Kaishima back to Kiyomu Commune, so he can look at the vacant lot where the church once stood, and account for what happened.

“What I am sure of is that my children, sisters and other friends in the church are going to get justice,” she said.

After the genocide, Mr. Kaishima went into hiding, living among the vulnerable and homeless in camps as he manipulated the asylum process in several countries, according to prosecutors. He fled Rwanda in 1994 and entered the Republic of Congo with his family. He then left for neighboring Tanzania, impersonating a Burundian asylum seeker, moving between the two camps.

Years later, he and his family traveled down the east coast of Africa, seeking refuge in Mozambique, eventually arriving in the Kingdom of Eswatini in 1998. The tiny landlocked state was a springboard for neighboring South Africa, where Mr Keshima spent the next two days. Decades of building a new life.

To evade authorities, he created multiple aliases, swapping passports and visas for at least four identities known to authorities, including Malawian citizenship. It was so effective that he received political asylum in two different countries, South Africa and Eswatini, in the same year. At the time of his arrest, he was identified as Donatin Nbasonba, a Burundian national.

His movements are believed to have been facilitated by a network of Rwandan exiles, particularly members of the now-disbanded Rwandan armed forces and the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda, an armed group accused of atrocities. There is blame. In Cape Town, Mr Kaishima worked as a security guard in a shopping mall parking lot. Mr Brammertz said the company he worked for was owned by one of these groups.

But this network will also prove its downfall. Investigators used telephone records, financial statements and cross-border travel to narrow their search. By “shaking the tree” of his close associates and persons of interest, authorities were able to locate the fugitive in a modest one-room house in Paarl, a small vineyard town outside Cape Town. Lived as a laborer in a grape farm. , Mr. Brammertz said.

The operation came to light in the past few days after years of what Mr. Brammertz said was a slow response from South Africa and Eswatini.

In one instance, South African authorities said they could not take action because Mr. Keshima had been granted refugee status, according to Mr. Brammertz. Report 2020 To the United Nations Security Council. Once again, Mr. Kaeshima’s records simply disappeared.

Over the past 10 months, though, South African authorities assigned a 20-person team to the case. They were part of the coalition that tracked him down and took him into custody. South African police officials say the fugitive will face charges of breaking South African immigration laws.

Mr. Kaeshima was one of several people indicted on charges related to the massacre. Others have been arrested, while at least two have died. The pastor of the church is Athanas Sirumba. Life sentence for his role in the massacre, while Gaspard is a pharmacist named Kinyarukiga. 30 years of service. Félicien Kabuga, a wealthy businessman who had been on the run for 23 years, has been on trial since last year. Mr. Kabuga is accused of inciting genocide through his radio station, as well as providing arms and financial support to the Interahmoe militia.

“It’s very possible that this is our last major arrest of a fugitive,” Mr. Brammertz said.

Arafat Mugabe Contributed reporting from Kigali, Rwanda.

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