June 6, 2019

Political Protection, Corruption Impeding Hunt For Genocide Fugitives – UN Prosecutor

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Rwanda’s Prosecutor General Jean Bosco Mutangana here meets Serge Brammertz, chief prosecutor of the International Residual Mechanisms for Criminal Tribunals (IRMCT) at a previous visit to Rwanda

Despite $5m bounty for each of the hardcore genocide fugitives and Red Notices for thousands others, the global hunt to apprehend them has proved nearly impossible, a top UN prosecutor admitted in Kigali.

Serge Brammertz, chief prosecutor of the International Residual Mechanisms for Criminal Tribunals (IRMCT) says his team is up against well-connected individuals.

“It is obvious those individuals are hiding very professional,” he told reporters. “We have up to twenty different identities in relation with one individual meaning number of real passports which have been derived, obviously these are alleged to be corruption passports of different nationalities.”

Top among them is Felicien Kabuga, who was probably the wealthiest man in pre-1994 genocide Rwanda and a close confidante of former President Juvenal Habyarimana. He imported tons of machettes and other crude weapons for the genocide.

He has been spotted in Kenya, Norway and many other places. People who have reported his trail were found dead.

IRMCT was previously the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR). By the time it was closed down four years ago, it had consumed more than $2.5b to try about 70 suspects – each case taking more than $37m.

At the same time, in Rwanda, more than 2m cases were handled by the traditional Gacaca courts at a total of about $ 37m.

Kabuga and other 7 fugitives have a US government bounty of $5m each. Others include Maj Protais Mpiranyi and Augustin Bizimana.

However, there are more than 40,000 fugitives identified as a result of the Gacaca courts.

Speaking today besides Rwanda’s Prosecutor General Jean Bosco Mutangana, the UN Prosecutor Brammertz said some fugitives of the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi have powerful political protection.

“As you can imagine, individuals – who have been successful hiding 25 years and haven’t been discovered until now, are obviously well protected and this can be and must be political protection and this of course means financial means,” said Brammertz

He also cited corruption as one of the reasons, his office and predecessors, are yet to spot any of the wanted, all of them men.

The top prosecutor’s visit comes after tempers between the UN body and Government of Rwanda have recently cooled following appointment of new IRMCT President.

The previous one, elderly Polish Judge Thedor Meron had a rough relationship with Kigali and genocide survivors, as they accused him of sympathising with convicts and granting early releases.

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