May 22, 2020

Genocide Fugitive on $5m Bounty Died 20 Years Ago in Congo-Brazaville

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This was one of the promotional posters online for the US bounty on Augustin Bizimana

Want for genocide, Augustin Bizimana, the defense minister of the interim government in 1994, died two decades ago, the UN confirmed Friday.

The UN’s International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (Mechanism), which replaced the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) says confirmation is based on the conclusive identification of Bizimana’s remains in a grave site in Pointe Noire, the Republic of the Congo.

Bizimana has been among 8 key fugitives of the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda, with a $5m bounty each for their arrest. With billionaire businessman Felicien Kabuga arrested in Paris last week, and now Biziman reportedly dead, only 6 remain.

As the Minister of Defence in the Interim Government during the genocide, Bizimana was indicted by the ICTR in 1998. He was charged with thirteen 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 the crimes charged, Bizimana was alleged to be responsible for the murders of former Prime Minister Agathe Uwilingiyimana and ten Belgian United Nations peacekeepers, and for the murder of Tutsi civilians throughout Gisenyi, Ruhengeri, Butare, Kibuye and Cyangugu prefectures.

“It is believed that he died in August 2000 in Pointe Noire,” said a statement from the UN mechanism.

Late last year, the UN tribunal says it conducted DNA analysis on previously-obtained samples of human remains from a grave site in Pointe Noire, the Republic of the Congo. Subsequent investigations and comparative DNA analysis over the last several months ruled out that the remains were those of any other person.

The mechanism said it verified additional evidence concerning the circumstances of Bizimana’s death. Accordingly, the Office confirmed today that Augustin Bizimana is deceased.

The remaining major fugitive is Protais Mpiranya, former commander of the Presidential Guard of the Rwandan Armed Forces, and the Office continues to actively pursue him. The UN mechanism is also actively pursuing the five other fugitives indicted by the ICTR, Fulgence Kayishema, Phénéas Munyarugarama, Aloys Ndimbati, Ryandikayo and Charles Sikubwabo.

Work to identify Bizimana was done in collaboration with Rwandan officials, U.S, Netherlands and Republic of the Congo (Congo-Brazaville).

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