UN prosecutor blames S Africa for delay in finding Rwandan killers

The UN prosecutor leading the search says South Africa is stalling the hunt for the last fugitive leaders of the Rwandan genocide as the clock ends to bring in Africa’s most wanted men brought to justice, decades after the murder, said the United Nations prosecutor leading the search.

President Cyril Ramaphosa’s government is causing a “very frustrating and disappointing” delay in its search for genocide suspects who may have found refuge in South Africa in recent years , Serge Brammertz, head of the international agency investigating the 1994 genocide and the former Yugoslav wars of the 1990s, told the Financial Times.

Last year, Rwanda’s hunt for genocide fugitives was stepped up with the French arrest of Félicien Kabuga, an alleged financier of the murders, after decades on the run.

But South Africa has yet to set up a police team to work with international prosecutors to track down suspects, despite high-profile promises as recently as last month, Brammertz said.

Brammertz, the head of a legacy “mechanism” to pursue international criminal cases for genocide, told the United Nations security council this week that South Africa’s lack of support was “a among the most severe cases of non-cooperation my office has faced.”

In particular, it has taken South Africa years to track down Fulgence Kayishema, a genocidaire suspect believed to have been hiding in the country in the past, Brammertz said.

United Nations prosecutor Serge Brammertz said South Africa’s lack of support was “one of the most serious cases of non-cooperation my office has faced” © Piroschka van de Wouw/Reuters

The country’s failures have been “even more severe due to the rapidly increasing number of South African contacts involving many defectors” beyond Kayishema, his office added in a report. this week. South Africa’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs did not respond to a request for comment. Relations between South Africa and Rwanda have become strained because of the murder of a former director of Rwandan intelligence in Johannesburg in 2014.

The harsh criticism highlights that decades after the murder, the conclusion of the final international criminal cases of the Rwandan genocide will depend on local law enforcement. in African countries, where many of the remaining defectors are believed to remain.

A total of more than 800,000 ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed in 1994 in 100 bloody days. But when the Tutsi army revolted to regain control of the capital in July, many of the most senior Hutu officials involved in the massacres fled, initially to neighboring Congo or through Uganda. to Kenya, before dispersing further afield.

Kayishema, a former judicial police inspector, was involved in the 1994 massacre of refugees at a church, according to international prosecutors. Hand grenades were hurled at the church before militiamen razed it and killed more than 1,500 people. “There is no interest in helping such an individual escape the country,” Brammertz said.

By contrast, he said there are “positive signs” that Zimbabwe, South Africa’s neighbor, is stepping up efforts to catch the mechanism’s most wanted fugitive, Protais Mpiranya, a former force commander protection force for the president of Rwanda.

Mpiranya, who was second on the wanted list until Kabuga’s arrest, is said to have used military ties with Zimbabwe to hide there. “I think for sure he was there in the early 2000s. . . and there’s still the important possibility that he’s still there,” Brammertz said.

“We certainly would like to see more activity on the ground,” he added, adding that the Zimbabwean state has become more involved in joint investigations with international prosecutors.

Brammertz said local cooperation is needed to find informants and tap into support networks for fugitives. “This can only work if we have direct access to operational services, such as police and immigration,” he said.

With Kabuga now en route to The Hague, Mpiranya will be the last international trial of the Rwandan genocide. Brammertz’s court is also hunting five other fugitives in Rwanda, including Kayishema, but they will face trial in Rwanda if caught.

As the Brammertz-led mechanism draws to a close, national prosecutors in Rwanda and countries in the former Yugoslavia are drawing on their resources to pursue their own cases, a change important but complex in hunting genocide fugitives.

While the international mechanism is pursuing the last six defectors, Rwanda’s national prosecutor has about 1,300 cases. More than half of these suspects are believed to remain on the African continent.

https://www.ft.com/content/b7ee377a-489b-4de5-b281-29b3e627b508 UN prosecutor blames S Africa for delay in finding Rwandan killers

Ian Walker

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