For greater than 20 years, Fulgence Kayishema, one of many world’s most wished fugitives of the Rwandan genocide, evaded authorities who say he orchestrated the killing of greater than 2,000 Tutsis in the course of the bloodbath.
He remained at massive, hiding amongst refugees in a number of nations, and masking himself behind numerous aliases.
This week the police lastly caught up with him in South Africa.
Mr. Kayishema, 61, was arrested Wednesday on a grape farm outdoors Cape City, authorities mentioned. It took a multinational workforce, together with South African police and the United Nations Worldwide Prison Tribunal for Rwanda, casting a large web to catch him.
Mr. Kayishema has been one of many tribunal’s most wished fugitives since his indictment in 2001. Not like the high-level politicians or generals already prosecuted because the masterminds of the 1994 Rwandan genocide, Mr. Kayishema had a direct hand within the killings, based on Serge Brammertz, the tribunal’s chief prosecutor. In response to the indictment, Mr. Kayishema was the chief police inspector in 1994, overseeing and collaborating within the days-long bloodbath of civilians.
“He was not solely organizing and planning, however he was himself concerned,” Mr. Brammertz mentioned.
Mr. Kayishema faces a number of fees for genocide and can now be extradited to Tanzania, the place he shall be tried by the Worldwide Prison Tribunal for Rwanda.
Because the killings started to unfold throughout Rwanda throughout in April 1994, greater than 2,000 girls, kids and aged Tutsi civilians sought refuge in Nyange Parish Church within the Kivumu commune, west of the capital, Kigali. The Catholic church was shortly surrounded by Hutu Interahamwe militia. As a substitute of intervening, law enforcement officials aided the killers with Mr. Kayishema on the helm, prosecutors say.
When killing by machete took too lengthy, Mr. Kayishema is believed to have procured gasoline that he and others poured onto the church, earlier than lobbing grenades via the home windows, prosecutors mentioned. He and his accomplices drove a bulldozer over the church, crushing any survivors. He then oversaw the digging of mass graves within the church grounds, the fees say.
“He actually took benefit of his place to actually put together and commit these large crimes,” Mr. Brammertz mentioned.
Within the aftermath of the genocide, Mr. Kayishema went into hiding, residing in camps among the many weak and displaced as he manipulated the asylum course of throughout a number of nations, based on the prosecutors. He fled Rwanda in 1994, crossing together with his household into the Democratic Republic of Congo. He then left for neighboring Tanzania, taking over the id of a Burundian asylum seeker, shifting between two camps.
A number of years later, he and his household traveled farther down Africa’s east coast, searching for asylum in Mozambique, finally arriving within the kingdom of Eswatini in 1998. The tiny landlocked kingdom was a springboard to neighboring South Africa, the place Mr. Kayishema spent the subsequent 20 years constructing a brand new life.
To evade authorities, he created a number of aliases, shuffling passports and visas of not less than 4 identities identified to authorities, together with a Malawian nationality. It was so efficient that he obtained asylum standing in two totally different nations, South Africa and Eswatini, in the identical yr. On the time of his arrest, he was often called Donatien Nibasunba, a Burundian nationwide.
A community of Rwandan exiles are believed to have facilitated his actions, particularly members of the now-disbanded Rwanda Protection Power and of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda, an armed group accused of atrocities. In Cape City, Mr. Kayishema labored as a safety guard in a shopping center car parking zone. The corporate he labored for was owned by considered one of these teams, Mr. Brammertz mentioned.
However this community would additionally show his downfall. Investigators used phone data, monetary statements and cross-border journey to slender their search. By “shaking the tree” of his shut associates and individuals of curiosity, authorities had been capable of monitor the fugitive to a modest one-room home, the place lived as a laborer on a grape farm in Paarl, a small winery city outdoors Cape City, Mr. Brammertz mentioned.
The operation got here collectively in the previous few days after years of what Mr. Brammertz has mentioned was gradual response from South Africa and Eswatini.
In a single occasion, South African authorities mentioned they might not act as a result of Mr. Kayishema had been granted refugee standing, based on Mr. Brammertz’s 2020 report back to the U.N. Safety Council. One other time, Mr. Kayishema’s data merely disappeared.
Within the final 10 months, although, South African authorities assigned a 20-person workforce to the case. They had been a part of the coalition that tracked and detained him. South African police officers say the fugitive will face fees for breaking South Africa’s immigration legal guidelines.
Mr. Kayishema was considered one of a number of males indicted on fees linked to the bloodbath. Others have been captured, whereas not less than two are believed to have died. The church’s priest, Athanase Seromba, is serving a life sentence for his position within the bloodbath, whereas a pharmacist named Gaspard Kanyarukiga is serving 30 years. Félicien Kabuga, a rich businessman who had been on the run for 23 years, has been on trial since final yr. Mr. Kabuga is charged with inciting genocide via his radio station whereas additionally offering weapons and monetary help to the Interahamwe militias.
“It is vitally possible that that is the final massive arrest of a fugitive by us,” Mr. Brammertz mentioned.
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