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Things Fall Apart: Luck Runs Out for The Mugenzis  

by Edmund Kagire
3:10 am

Joseph Mugenzi (left) and his son Rene Claudel Mugenzi.

They say when troubles come, they come in battalions and such is the case for one Rwandan family abroad which for so long had eluded justice and hoodwinked the world into believing that they were ‘political activists’ -the tale of Joseph Mugenzi and his son Rene Claudel Mugenzi. 

The announcement by the International Crimes Team of the Dutch Police on Tuesday that it had arrested a 71-year old man, who was later identified as Joseph Mugenzi, in connection with suspected crimes committed in the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, compounded the fate of the Mugenzi’s who until now had continued to live in Europe scot-free. 

The arrest of the elder Mugenzi in the Netherlands came on the heels of a conviction handed to his son, Rene Claudel Mugenzi, a self-proclaimed human rights activist living in the UK, on charges of fraud. 

The 44-year old was last week on Friday sentenced to 27 months in jail for stealing more than £220,000 from Norwich Roman Catholic Cathedral while volunteering as its treasurer.

Mugenzi Jnr was found guilty of transferring cash from the bank account of St John the Baptist Cathedral in Norwich to his personal account to fund his gambling addiction. 

For nearly a decade, Mugenzi had duped the UK Government into believing that his life was threatened by the Rwandan Government because he was a government critic and in July when it emerged that he had been stealing from the church, he attempted to block coverage of the case or being named in the press. 

After three months of court battles, a UK newspaper, the Eastern Daily Press, won the battle to name Mugenzi following his sentencing to more than 2 years. His conviction shed light on the presence of his father, who is suspected of committing genocide crimes, in another European country. 

Mugenzi Snr, who claimed to be a former bank clerk and a pharmacy owner in Kigali in 1994, was arrested on Tuesday, a development that was confirmed by the Dutch Public Prosecution Service. 

According to reports, Rwanda has requested for his extradition to answer for crimes committed during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi. The former ally of Victoire Umuhoza Ingabire, who has been living in the Netherlands since 2000, was convicted by Gacaca Court in absentia. 

He has been actively involved in subversive politics in Europe, blackmailing and tarnishing the government of Rwanda, while his son did the same across in the UK. 

In a recent interview with KT Press, Rwanda’s Ambassador-designate to The Netherlands, Amb. Olivier Nduhungirehe, said that the Mugenzi’s have always been fraudster, with the one in the UK purporting to be a genocide survivor, yet his father, who lives in the Netherlands, is wanted for suspected Genocide crimes. 

“Mugenzi’s father is a known Genocide fugitive living in The Netherlands yet he (Rene) claims to have survived the genocide,” Nduhungirehe said, wondering how ironical it is for one to claim to be a genocide survivor yet the father is suspected to have participated in the genocide. 

Mugenzi Snr, who is one of the founding members of Ingabire’s unregistered political outfit FDU-Inkingi, was also a senior member of the former ruling party, National Republican Movement for Democracy and Development (MRND) of former President Juvenal Habyarimana, which is responsible for planning and executing the genocide against the Tutsi. 

The National Commission for the Fight against Genocide (CNLG) had previously called for his arrest and extradition to Rwanda. It is still unclear if he will be deported to Rwanda but The Netherlands has in recent years sent genocide suspects to Rwanda to face trial. 

Following his arrest, many, including genocide survivors, took to social media to call for his extradition to Rwanda. 

“Slowly by slowly, they will all be held accountable. First it was the son convicted for fraud now the father, who faces accusations of genocide crimes, has been arrested,” tweeted one Devota Gacendeli while Wilson Kayitare said that Joseph Mugenzi was a senior member of MRND, which planned and executed the genocide. 

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