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What's Known About Rwandan Genocide-Indicted Fugitive Kayishema Case?

© AP Photo / Nardus EngelbrechtFulgence Kayishema sits on the bench in the Magistrate's Court in Cape Town, South Africa
Fulgence Kayishema sits on the bench in the Magistrate's Court in Cape Town, South Africa - Sputnik Africa, 1920, 01.11.2023
In 1994, the Hutu ethnic group launched a genocide against the smaller Tutsi community and moderate Hutu who refused to participate in the killings. Between April and June 1994, approximately 800,000 people - mostly Tutsis, but also Twa and others - were killed.
Fulgence Kayishema, a Rwandan national wanted for genocide crimes in the East African country in the 1990s, appeared in the Cape Town Magistrate's Court last week.
Sputnik Africa presents the story of a former servant of the law who chose the path of violence and is now awaiting his punishment.
The Rwandan genocide of 1994 was the result of a provisional government, composed mainly of Hutus, taking power. It targeted the Tutsi ethnic minority as well as politically moderate Hutus. In less than a year, some 800,000 people died in clashes between Hutu and Tutsi, according to the UN.
One such sad chapter in the tragic events of the East African nation was the massacre of more than 2,000 Tutsi men, women and children who had taken refuge in a Catholic Church in Nyange, Kivumu District.
View of Bisesero site - Sputnik Africa, 1920, 21.09.2023
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Seven years later, in 2001, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), was set up to prosecute those responsible for crimes committed within the nation. Fulgence Kayishema, a police inspector of the Kivumu commune who ordered the killing of Tutsis and brought fuel for the attempted burning of the church was the main organizer of the massacre.

Interpol has also joined the search, following the Tribunal's warrant, and offered a reward of $5 million for any information that could aid in his capture.

In 2015, the ICTR was dissolved and its functions transferred to the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (IRMCT), which includes cases related to the Rwandan genocide. Before its dissolution, the ICTR tried 93 defendants, including government and political figures, security officials, and religious and community leaders. However, the ex-police officer remained at large for a long time and was one of the four fugitives indicted by a tribunal.
In May, after 20 years on the run, Kayishema was finally arrested by South African police. Authorities have revealed that the fugitive was residing on a farm in the Western Cape Province of western South Africa, using an assumed identity.

He was charged with five counts, including complicity in genocide, conspiracy to commit genocide, crimes against humanity, and fraud and deception in obtaining asylum in South Africa. During a court hearing on May 26 in Cape Town, Kayishema did not respond to the South African charges, but denied his involvement in the tragic events in Rwanda.

In June, South African prosecutors filed new charges against the fugitive: nine counts of fraud, 10 counts of contravening the Refugee Act, and 35 counts of contravening the Immigration Act, for a total of 54 counts.
According to the latest update on October 27, South African government officials informed the court that they were awaiting documents related to Kayishema's entry into South Africa before the case could be heard. The matter was adjourned until December 13, and Kayishema remains in custody at Helderstroom Prison in the Western Cape.
Meanwhile, Rwandan prosecutors insist that the genocide accused be deported to his home country. Rwanda itself has a law that makes denial of the genocide against the Tutsi punishable by long prison sentences.