Global perspective Human stories

Ex-Rwandan bishop arrested for genocide and transferred to UN tribunal

Ex-Rwandan bishop arrested for genocide and transferred to UN tribunal

The former Bishop of an Anglican Diocese in central Rwanda has been arrested for his participation in that country's genocide in 1994, the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) said today.

Samuel Musabyimana, formerly Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Shyogwe, in Gitarama prefecture, was arrested yesterday in Nairobi, Kenya, and transferred to the ICTR's detention facility in Arusha. He is charged with four counts including genocide, conspiracy to commit genocide, and crimes against humanity, specifically extermination.

The arrest was carried out by Kenyan police on the basis of an arrest warrant issued by the Tribunal on 13 March. Mr. Musabyimana was originally arrested by South African authorities on immigration charges in September 2000 and deported to Kenya, where he escaped. The Tribunal's Prosecutor, Carla Del Ponte, expressed her satisfaction that the arrest had now been successfully accomplished.

Speaking from Nairobi, the Registrar of the Tribunal, Adama Dieng, said, "I thank the Kenyan authorities for their cooperation and for the efficient execution of the arrest warrant. This bodes well for the work of the Rwanda Tribunal."

The indictment charges that during April and May 1994, following escalation of the Rwandan conflict in Gitarama, Bishop Musabyimana publicly stated that "the situation for the Tutsi is very bad and that their end has arrived," ICTR said. On the arrival of refugees at the Shyogwe Diocese, the Bishop instructed his subordinate to register them according to their ethnic groups. The list of refugees was later used to select Tutsi refugees who were taken to nearby sites to be killed. The Bishop is also said to have paid the militias who carried out the killings.

The count of conspiracy is based upon meetings with high-level government and military officials organized or attended by Mr. Musabyimana. He is said to have consorted regularly with Ministers of the interim Government of Rwanda and acted as an emissary abroad of the Government to legitimize its policies, at a time when those policies were known to include a plan of extermination of the Tutsi and the Hutu political opposition.

According to the Tribunal, duty counsel will be appointed by the Registrar to assist Bishop Musabyimana and to advise him of his rights during his detention. A date will be fixed for his initial appearance before a judge when he will enter a plea to the charges against him.