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Tuesday 23 December  
International Justice Desk's picture
Arusha, Tanzania
Arusha, Tanzania

High-profile Rwanda genocide convict transferred to Mali

Published on : 5 July 2012 - 11:07am | By International Justice Desk (photo: AFP)
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The most high-profile detainee at the UN court for Rwanda, Theoneste Bagosora, has been sent to Mali to serve his sentence along with three other prisoners, the court said Wednesday.

Seven other genocide suspects convicted by the court have been sent to Benin, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda said in a statement.

Bagosora, ruled to have been de facto army chief in the first days of the Rwandan genocide in 1994, was initially sentenced to life imprisonment in December 2008 on charges of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.

In December 2011 the appeals court reduced his sentence to 35 years.

The lower court had ruled he had ordered the crimes -- mass killings, rapes and political assassinations -- committed by his subordinates.

Failed to prevent

However, the appeals judges found rather that he had simply failed to prevent his men from committing crimes, and failed to punish them for it.

Meanwhile, Rwanda's prosecutor general called for a change in strategy and tougher UN measures to track down fugitive genocide suspect Felicien Kabuga, one of Africa's most wanted men.

New mechanism

The hunt for Kabuga, believed to have been the main financier of the 1994 genocide, is now the responsibility of the Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals (MICT) which officially began work on Monday.

The new UN-backed body takes over from the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), which is also based in the northern Tanzanian city of Arusha but is wrapping up activities at the end of 2014.

"If there is irrefutable evidence of his presence on the soil of a member state, more serious measures should be taken by the Security Council," Prosecutor General Martin Ngoga said.

"There must be a new strategy, a new approach, a change of methods, language and tactics," he said.
Born in 1935, the Rwandan millionaire businessman is said to be a frequent traveller to various African nations where he buys protection.

He was thrown out of Switzerland in 1994, and spent some time in the Democratic Republic of Congo before seeking refuge in Kenya, where he has escaped several attempts to arrest him.

Ngoga argued that the UN Security Council's action had so far been limited to urging member states' cooperation.

He also called for stepped up international efforts to track down and arrest two other key suspects in the 1994 genocide against Rwanda's Tutsi minority, in which the UN says 800,000 people were killed in 100 days.

Bizimana and Mpiranya

The pair have been named by MICT prosecutor Hassan Bubacar Jallow as former defence minister Augustin Bizimana and Protais Mpiranya, who was in charge of the presidential guard battalion.

According to MICT sources speaking on condition of anonymity, Kabuga still has business interests in Kenya, Mpiranya enjoys protection from senior Zimbabwean officials and Bizimana is hiding in the Democratic Republic of Congo.


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International Justice

From the former Yugoslavia to Rwanda, Cambodia and Lebanon, Radio Netherlands Worldwide reports on international justice. We offer background news and reporting on war crimes, human rights abuses and genocide.