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‘Butcher of Butare,’ key genocide suspect, arrested

Video by Roland AMOUSSOUGA , Spokesperson ICTR

Text by FRANCE 24 (with wires)

Latest update : 2009-10-06

Idelphonse Nizeyimana (dubbed the “Butcher of Butare”), a key suspect in the 1994 Rwandan genocide, has been arrested in the Ugandan capital of Kampala, a spokesman for the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda told FRANCE 24.

A senior former Rwandan intelligence chief, who was one of the most wanted suspects in the 1994 Rwandan genocide, was arrested in the Ugandan capital of Kampala, senior Ugandan police officials said Tuesday.  

Idelphonse Nizeyimana, a former Rwandan army captain and intelligence officer, is accused of genocide, complicity in genocide, and direct and public incitement to commit genocide in Rwanda.

As the former head of intelligence and military operations during the 1994 genocide, Nizeyimana is accused of setting up special military units that targeted members of the ethnic Tutsi community, including former Queen Rosalie Gicanda, a revered figure among the Tutsis.

Speaking to FRANCE 24 from Tanzania - where the (ICTR) International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda is based - ICTR spokesman Roland Amoussouga said Nizeyimana was captured in Kampala Monday in an operation that involved the close cooperation of Interpol in Uganda with the ICTR tracking team.

“This is a very important development in the area of cooperation between member states at the tribunal,” said Amoussouga. “He was one of the top suspects who was earmarked by the (ICTR) prosecutor to be tried by the tribunal in Arusha.”

The ICTR was set up in the Tanzanian city of Arusha in November 1994 by the UN Security Council to judge people responsible for the Rwandan genocide in which about 800,000 people - primarily Tutsis - were killed.

The ‘Butcher of Butare’

Dubbed the “Butcher of Butare,” Nizeyimana is accused of masterminding the brutal slayings of students and professors at the University of Butare, a bilingual university providing education in both French and English in southern Rwanda, in a drive to target prominent Tutsi intellectuals.

But for many Tutsis, Nizeyimana is the man responsible for the slaying of Queen Rosalie Gicanda, the widow of King Mutara III, who was the monarch of Rwanda between 1931 and 1959.

According to the New York-based Human Rights Watch, soldiers from one of the special units controlled by Nizeyimana stormed the queen’s Butare home and took the revered octogenarian figure behind the city’s national museum, where she was shot.

Speaking to FRANCE 24, Amoussouga, the ICTR spokesman, said Nizeyimana will be extradited to Arusha, where he will have an initial appearance before the tribunal. At the initial hearing Amoussouga said the charges against Nizeyimana would be read and the suspect would be expected to either plead guilty or not guilty. “If he pleads not guilty, then we will have a case opened against him," he said. "If he pleads guilty, we will have to move forward to the sentencing."

Nizeyimana is one among the dozen most wanted suspects sought by the UN court over the Rwandan genocide.

Date created : 2009-10-06