The International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals(IRMCT) has confirmed the arrest of Fulgence Kayishema, one of the world’s most wanted genocide fugitives – was arrested in Paarl, South Africa.
Kayishema who is pursued on Genocide crimes committed during the 1994 Genocide against Tutsi which claimed more than one million Tutsi was arrested on May 24, 2023 owing to a joint operation by the IRMCT Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) Fugitive Tracking Team and South African authorities, according to IRMCT.
Kayishema is alleged to have orchestrated the killing of approximately 2000 Tutsi refugees – women, men, children and elderly – at the Nyange Catholic Church during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda. He has been at large since 2001.
“Fulgence Kayishema was a fugitive for more than twenty years. His arrest ensures that he will finally face justice for his alleged crimes,” writes IRMCT Chief Prosecutor Serge Brammertz.
“Kayishema’s arrest demonstrates yet again that justice can be secured, no matter the challenges, through direct cooperation between international and national law enforcement agencies.”
The Prosecutor said it is a big day for the survivors of the Genocide against Tutsi who, 29 years after the Genocide, continuw to bear the scars of the tragedy.
“Together with Father Seromba Kayishema contributed to the collapse of the church to kill more than 3000 Tutsi. As Genocide survivors, we would wish to have him tried in Rwanda so that genocide survivors and Rwandans at large can follow the trial in the language they can hear, without further cost. We would wish that there is no more complication to have him tried. It should not be like the case of Kabuga Felicien which is taking long. IRMCT will decide, but our wish is to have him here,” said Naphtal Ahishakiye, the Executive Secretary of Ibuka, the umbrella of Genocide survivors’ associations.
Kayishema was indicted by the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) in 2001 and charged with genocide, complicity in genocide, conspiracy to commit genocide, and crimes against humanity for killings and other crimes committed in Kivumu Commune, Kibuye Prefecture during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda.
The indictment alleges that on 15 April 1994, Kayishema, together with other co-perpetrators, murdered more than 2,000 men, women, elderly and children refugees at the Nyange Church in Kivumu commune where he was inspector of judicial police.
It is alleged that he directly participated in the planning and execution of this massacre, including by procuring and distributing petrol to burn down the church with the refugees inside. When this failed, Kayishema and others used a bulldozer to collapse the church, burying and killing the refugees inside. Kayishema and others then supervised the transfer of corpses from the church grounds into mass graves over the next approximately two days.
According to IRMCT, the investigation leading to Kayishema’s arrest spanned multiple countries across Africa and elsewhere, in strong cooperation with many national law enforcement and immigration agencies.
The mechanism indicates that during his flight from justice, Kayishema utilized many aliases and false documents to conceal his identity and presence. He further relied upon a network of trusted supporters, including family members, members of the ex-Forces Armées Rwandaises and ex-Forces démocratiques de libération du Rwanda, and those aligned with the genocidal Hutu Power ideology.
Kayishema was located and arrested through an analysis-driven investigation exploiting multi-source evidence with both traditional and leading-edge methodologies.
CNN reports that when Kayishema was arrested, he initially denied his identity, investigators said. But by the end of the evening he told them: “I have been waiting a long time to be arrested.”
A reward of up to $5,000,000 was offered by the US War Crimes Rewards Program for information on Kayishema and the other fugitives wanted for perpetrating the Rwandan genocide.
Kayishema is due to be arraigned on Friday in a Cape Town court.