The 20-year hunt for some of the masterminds behind Rwanda’s Tutsi genocide has ended after searches led to cemeteries in Zimbabwe and DR Congo.
Refugee Protais Mpiranya died in 2006 in Zimbabwe. UN prosecutors investigating the case announced last week.
“After a challenging and intensive investigation, the OTP (Office of the Prosecutor) has determined that Mpiranya was arrested on October 5, 2006 in Harare, Zimbabwe died,” said the The Mechanism for International Criminal Courts was announced in The Hague on May 12.
And this week, prosecutors confirmed again that another fugitive, Pheneas Munyarugarama, was in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 2002 died of complications from an illness.
They have been charged with genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity in connection with their role in the 1994 Tutsi genocide.
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Mpiranya was head of the Presidential Guard and was accused of the assassination of then-Prime Minister Agathe Uwilingiyimana order
According to his indictment, he had given his men a list of prominent Tutsis to be killed and ordered their families to be killed. He armed and trained the notorious Hutu militia Interahamwe, responsible for thousands of deaths.
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His officers also assassinated the 10 Belgian UN peacekeepers guarding Ms. Uwilingiyimana.
Mpiranya’s body was buried under a falsely named stone slab, which was tracked down by UN investigators and identified using a critical lead found on a confiscated computer: the hand-drawn design for Mpiranya’s tombstone.
On May 10, DNA analysis confirmed Mpiranya’s identity after his body was exhumed at the request of UN investigators last month.
Serge Brammertz, the UN prosecutor who led the hunt, said he was the last of the main fugitives and finding his body “offers the comfort of knowing he can do no further harm.”
And in another note Explaining on Wednesday, Prosecutor Brammertz said: “The Mechanism Prosecutor’s Office confirmed today (18. May) the death of Phénéas Mun Yarugarama, one of the last fugitives indicted by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) and a notorious figure in the 1994 Tutsi genocide in Rwanda.
“With the confirmation of the death by Protais Mpiranya last Thursday, [and now Phénéas Munyarugarama this Wednesday) only four refugees remain under the Mechanism’s jurisdiction: Fulgence Kayishema, Charles Sikubwabo, Charles Ryandikayo and Aloys Ndimbati.”
The prosecutor added that his top priority is Fulgence Kayishema, who he says lives in South Africa.
Munyarugarama, a former military officer in Rwanda, was arrested by the ICTR in February 2002 charged. The ICTR issued eight counts of indictments, including genocide, direct and public incitement to genocide and crimes against humanity.
Munyarugarama was arrested for massacres, assaults and sexual violence against Tutsi civilians in the Bugesera region, including assaults in Tutsi re, blamed refugees in Catholic churches at the height of the Rwandan genocide against the Tutsi.
He held the rank of lieutenant colonel.
Munyarugarama fled Rwanda in June 1994 in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which was then called Zaire. He joined the former Rwandan Armed Forces and later the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), the rebels who opposed Kigali.
“After a difficult and intense investigation, the prosecution was able “To establish that Munyarugarama died of natural causes on or about February 28, 2002 in Kankwala in the eastern provinces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where he was also buried,” the May 18 statement read.
Key wanted figure
Faced with genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, Mpiranya was a key figure who was still wanted following the arrest of Felicien Kabuga in France two years ago.
He was accused, along with others, of instigating the assassination of moderate Hutu Prime Minister Agathe Uwilingiyimana on April 7, 1994.
The mass murder of Rwanda’s Tutsi population was committed on April 6 öst, while a plane carrying President Juvénal Habyarimana was shot down and crashed in the capital Kigali, killing the leader, who was an ethnic Hutu.
The Tutsi were accused of shooting down the plane , and although they denied it, gangs of Hutu extremists began killing them, including children.
After charges were brought against him, Mpiranya fled to Zimbabwe in late 2002, where he was held up to was alive after his death in 2006, the tribunal said.
The inquest found that he had arrived on a Zimbabwean military plane and had frequent contact during his stay with Zimbabwean officials in then-President Robert Mugabe’s regime, who were of his identity as a valued ally in the second Congo War of 1998-2003.
“Mpiranya’s presence in Zimbabwe and later the The fact of his death was determined through the concerted efforts of his family and Staff deliberately silent, including to date,” the MICT said, adding it will ask the judges to close the case.