Rwanda genocide fugitive to be taken to Arusha for trial

Fulgence Kayishema

What you need to know:

  • After facing the United Nations’ International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals, he is expected to be extradited to Rwanda

Arusha. The Rwandan genocide fugitive who was arrested in South Africa recently could be headed to Arusha for trial.

Fulgence Kayishema (63) was apprehended for his role in the 1994 killings after being on the run for nearly 20 years.

He briefly appeared in the Cape Town Magistrate’s Court two days after his arrest for an initial trial related to genocide.

However, additional charges were brought against him, including fraud and breaking immigration rules. The two counts of fraud and three charges related to illegal residency in South Africa are borne out by the fact that he has been living in South Africa using an assumed name.

But the prosecution authorities in Rwanda have been quoted as saying Kayishema would likely be brought to Arusha to stand trial.

“Once the South African court process concludes, Kayishema will first be transferred to Arusha”, said Faustin Nkusi, a spokesman for the prosecution. In Arusha, he will face the United Nations’ International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (IRMCT), or the Mechanism.

Thereafter, he is expected to be extradited to Rwanda, his motherland, where he is accused of coordinating the horrific killings in 1994.

He added that a “step-by-step” process of extraditing the fugitive was underway and that it would be completed soon.

Mr Kayishema is one of the most sought-after suspects of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda, in which nearly one million people were hacked to death.

Officials of the Arusha-based IRMCT (the Mechanism) could not be reached yesterday to confirm reports that the suspect would, indeed, be brought to Arusha for trial.

But the prosecutor, Serge Brammertz, was quoted by the Rwandan media last week as saying he hopes” Fulgence Kayishema will be in Rwanda for prosecution in a few weeks.”

Early this year, IRMCT closed its UN Detention Centre near the Arusha airport, where people facing trial for their role in the Rwanda genocide were held during prosecution.

The Mechanism, which took over from the International Criminal Tribunal of Rwanda (ICTR), is likely to wind up its business soon.

The ICTR, for its part, closed shop in December 2015 after convicting 61 suspects of the Rwanda genocide and acquitting scores of others.

Kayishema, the former head of the judicial police in the Rwandan government at the time of the killings, was indicted in 2001 and had $5 million on his head.

He is accused of playing a pivotal role in planning and executing the killings of approximately 2,000 Tutsis at a Catholic church during the genocide.

Felicien Kabuga, the alleged mastermind and financier of the killings arrested in 2020, is currently on trial in the Netherlands for his role in the genocide.

Efforts to bring him to Arusha or Kigali to stand trial for his key role in the horrific massacres failed.