A former Minister of Defence, and one of the key masterminds of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, who was indicted by the UN court years ago, is dead, the Chief Prosecutor of the Residual Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals (RMICT) confirmed on Friday, May 22.
Augustin Bizimana who fled Rwanda in July 1994, heading to DR Congo, has been among the last seven wanted fugitives. The confirmation of his death now leaves six others at large.
Serge Brammertz, the Chief Prosecutor of the Residual Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals (RMICT), which took over from the ICTR, confirmed Bizimana's death "based on the conclusive identification of Bizimana’s remains in a gravesite" in Pointe Noire, the Republic of the Congo.
According to a related statement, it is believed that he died in August 2000 in Pointe Noire.
"This confirmation of death is the result of an exhaustive investigation by the Office of the Prosecutor combining advanced technology with extensive field operations, and involved exceptional cooperation with partner authorities in Rwanda, the Republic of the Congo, the Netherlands and the United States," the statement reads in part.
Late last year, it is noted, the Prosecutor's Office conducted DNA analysis on previously-obtained samples of human remains from a gravesite in Pointe Noire, the Republic of the Congo.
"Subsequent investigations and comparative DNA analysis by the Office over the last several months ruled out that the remains were those of any other person. The Office further verified additional evidence concerning the circumstances of Bizimana’s death. Accordingly, the Office confirms today that Augustin Bizimana is deceased."
As the Minister of Defence in the Interim Government during the Genocide, Bizimana was indicted by the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) in 1998.
He was charged with 13 counts of Genocide, complicity in Genocide, extermination, murder, rape, torture, other inhumane acts, persecution, cruel treatment and outrages upon personal dignity, all in relation to crimes committed during the 1994 Genocide.
Among others, Bizimana was alleged to be responsible for the murders of former Prime Minister Agathe Uwilingiyimana and 10 Belgian UN peacekeepers. He was also responsible for the murder of Tutsi civilians throughout Gisenyi, Ruhengeri, Butare, Kibuye and Cyangugu prefectures.
"The Office expresses its particular appreciation to the Netherlands Forensic Institute and the United States Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory for their critical technical support and assistance in this matter."
With the arrest of Félicien Kabuga in France last Saturday and confirmation of Bizimana's death, the Office of the Prosecutor has now accounted for two of the three major fugitives previously indicated by the ICTR.
The remaining major fugitive now is Protais Mpiranya, former commander of the Presidential Guard of the Rwandan Armed Forces.
Mpiranya is believed to be in South Africa.
"And the Office continues to actively pursue him (Mpiranya)."
The Prosecutor's Office is also actively pursuing five other fugitives indicted by the ICTR, Fulgence Kayishema, Phénéas Munyarugarama, Aloys Ndimbati, Ryandikayo and Charles Sikubwabo.
"The Office of the Prosecutor calls on all UN Member States to intensify cooperation in order to bring the remaining fugitives to justice."