Former Rwandan army chief of staff arrested, transferred to UN war crimes tribunal

Former Rwandan army chief of staff arrested, transferred to UN war crimes tribunal

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The former chief of staff of the Rwandan army during the country's 1994 genocide has been arrested in Angola and transferred to the custody of the United Nations war crimes tribunal based in Arusha, Tanzania.

Gen. Augustin Bizimungu was arrested on 12 April in eastern Angola by the country's authorities in response to an arrest warrant issued by the UN International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR). He is one of the most senior former Rwandan military commanders apprehended by the Tribunal and also the first of nine principal genocide suspects named by the United States Government in its "Rewards for Justice Programme" to be detained. That initiative aims to support the court's efforts to apprehend high-ranking fugitives.

Angolan officials said that General Bizimungu had been fighting for the rebel National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) and was identified during the demobilization of UNITA forces as part of the country's recent peace settlement.

According to the indictment, between April and July 1994, General Bizimungu and other Rwandan Army officers ordered, encouraged and supported the massacres against the Tutsi population and moderate Hutu. From 1992 onwards he made statements identifying Tutsi and moderate Hutu as "the enemy" and contributed to the training and arming of militia groups.

General Bizimungu is jointly indicted with four other accused - Gen. Augustin Ndindiliyimana, former Chief of Staff of the Gendarmerie Nationale; Maj. Francois-Xavier Nzuwonemeye, Commander of the Reconnaissance Battalion; Capt. Innocent Sagahutu, second in command of the Reconnaissance Battalion and Maj. Protais Mpiranya, Commander of the Presidential Guard. The first three suspects are already in the Tribunal's custody.

The 12-count indictment, 10 of which concern General Bizimungu, includes charges of conspiracy to commit genocide, genocide, crimes against humanity for murder, extermination, rape persecution and other inhumane acts and serious violations of the Geneva Conventions.