The remains of one of the most wanted fugitives in Rwanda’s genocide 20 years ago has been found, a UN war crimes prosecutor said, less than a week after another high-profile fugitive, Félicien Kabuga, was arrested in France.
Confirmation of the death of Augustin Bizimana came when a DNA test on the remains in a grave in Congo-Brazzaville, positively identified him, the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (IRMCT) said.
Rwandan authorities said Bizimana, who was the defence minister of Rwanda at that time, was a key player in the 1994 genocide in which about 800,000 people were killed in 100 days.
He was indicted in 1998 by a UN tribunal on 13 charges, including genocide, murder, rape and torture.
The announcement of his death follows the arrest in Paris last weekend of Kabuga, who is accused of being the major financier of the killers during the genocide.
Bizimana and Kabuga were ethnic Hutu extremists targeting members of the minority Tutsi community and their political opponents, irrespective of their ethnic origin.
The search is still on for six other Rwandans accused of genocide, Serge Brammertz, the UN war crimes prosecutor, said in a statement.
Of the six, the most wanted is Protais Mpiranya, a former commander of the presidential guard. Like Kabuga and Bizimana, he is regarded as a “major fugitive”.
Mr. Brammertz is chief prosecutor of IRMCT at The Hague, which handles outstanding war crimes cases for Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia.
“Bizimana was alleged to be responsible for the murders of former Prime Minister Agathe Uwilingiyimana, 10 Belgian United Nations peacekeepers, and the murder of Tutsi civilians in five Rwandan regions,” he said.
The confirmation of Bizimana’s death was the result of an exhaustive investigation into human remains from a grave site found in Pointe-Noire in Congo, he said.
As well as DNA analysis over several months, the investigators had verified additional evidence concerning the circumstances of Bizimana’s death in August 2000, the prosecutor said.
However, Mr. Brammertz’s statement gave no further details about how the former defence minister had died, when he would have been aged around 46.
Dozens of people were convicted for their role in the killings by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), set up after the genocide, and hundreds of thousands more faced trial in community courts in Rwanda. (Source: BBC)