Home NewsNational End of An Era: IRMCT Prosecutor Says All ICTR Fugitives Accounted For

End of An Era: IRMCT Prosecutor Says All ICTR Fugitives Accounted For

by Edmund Kagire
6:09 pm

IRMCT says all the wanted individuals have been accounted.

The Prosecutor of theInternational Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (IRMCT) on Wednesday announced that the United Nations-sanction mechanism has accounted for all fugitives indicted by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) for crimes committed during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.

The OTP concluded that the last two fugitives – Ryandikayo and Charles Sikubwabo – are deceased. As for the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), the last fugitive was arrested in 2011. Accordingly, there are now no fugitives at large indicted by the ICTR and ICTY, which were established by the Security Council in the 1990s to investigate and prosecute genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes committed in Rwanda and the countries of the former Yugoslavia.

Following the announcement, IRMCT Chief Prosecutor Serge Brammertz said that after years, it is about time the tribunals conclude their mandate.

“From the first indictments filed nearly 30 years ago, the ICTR and ICTY confronted the significant challenge of tracking fugitives. Investigating the crimes and indicting the primary suspects were only the first steps – the longer work was to locate and arrest them,” Brammertz said.

“There were immense difficulties, ranging from the political unwillingness of countries to execute arrests, to sophisticated efforts by fugitives to conceal their identities and locations. Many began to doubt that notorious fugitives, like Felicien Kabuga or Ratko Mladić, would ever be arrested,” he added.

Brammertz said there were several obstacles which they managed to overcome through persistence and the expertise of the dedicated Fugitive Tracking Team.

“And so my Office and I are pleased that today, this work has been brought to a successful end. Uniquely in international criminal justice, all ICTR and ICTY fugitives have now been accounted for,”

“This result is a testament to the United Nations’ unwavering commitment to bring to justice all persons indicted by the ICTR and ICTY. This is a tangible demonstration that the international community can ensure accountability is achieved,” he added.

Brammertz said that while the search for the last ICTR fugitives is over, it is critical to remind the world that there are still more than 1,000 fugitive génocidaires who are sought by national authorities.

“Locating them will be a challenge, as it was for the ICTR and ICTY. At the request of national partners, including the Prosecutor General of Rwanda, my Office will continue to provide essential assistance to their efforts to bring these individuals to justice,”

“While we should be satisfied that there are no more ICTR fugitives, this work cannot stop until all perpetrators of crimes during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda have been brought to justice,” he said.

He pointed out that since 2020, the OTP Fugitive Tracking Team has accounted for the whereabouts of all eight outstanding ICTR fugitives. The OTP arrested two fugitives, Félicien Kabuga in Paris, France in May 2020, and Fulgence Kayishema in Paarl, South Africa in May 2023.

The Prosecutor’s further confirmed the deaths of another six fugitives, Augustin Bizimana, Protais Mpiranya, Phénéas Munyarugarama, Aloys Ndimbati, Ryandikayo and Charles Sikubwabo.

But what was their fate?

Charles Sikubwabo

The Prosecutor’s office confirmed the death of Charles Sikubwabo, who was one of the remaining fugitives indicted by the ICTR. Sikubwabo was born in Bugina cell, Gishyita commune, Kibuye prefecture, in 1948. Following primary school, he served in the Forces Armées Rwandaises (FAR), retiring with the rank of Chief Adjutant.

He was then appointed the bourgmestre of Gishyita commune, Kibuye prefecture, as a member of the Mouvement démocratique républicain (MDR) party, which position he held at the time of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda.

Sikubwabo was first indicted by the ICTR in November 1995. He was charged with genocide, complicity in genocide, conspiracy to commit genocide, murder as a crime against humanity, extermination as a crime against humanity and other inhumane acts as a crime against humanity.

Together with ICTR convicts Elizaphan Ntakirutimana and Gérard Ntakirutimana, Sikubwabo was alleged to have led attacks on 16 April 1994 against Tutsi refugees at the Mugonero Complex in Kibuye prefecture, which comprised a church, hospital and other buildings. As a result, hundreds of refugees were murdered and a large number wounded.

For the next several months, Sikubwabo then led searches for survivors and attacks against them when they were found. Sikubwabo was also alleged to have participated in massacres at the Catholic Church and the Home St. Jean complex in Kibuye town, the Stadium in Kibuye town, the Church in Mubuga, and at locations throughout the Bisesero area, which resulted in the murder of thousands of Tutsis.

These crimes were adjudicated by the ICTR in the cases against Clement Kayishema, Ignace Bagilishema, Vincent Rutaganira, Mika Muhimana and Obed Ruzindana.

In July 1994, Sikubwabo and his family fled Rwanda for then-Zaire, now the DRC, where they resided in Kashusha camp. In November 1996, as a result of combat activities between forces of the Rwandan Army and ethnic Hutu militias along the Rwanda-DRC border, Sikubwabo and his family fled westwards. Sikubwabo was separated from his wife and small children, who ultimately returned to Rwanda, while Sikubwabo travelled to the Republic of Congo and Central African Republic before ultimately arriving in Chad in around late 1997.

Following a comprehensive investigation, the OTP was able to conclude that Sikubwabo passed away in N’djamena, Chad, in 1998 and was subsequently buried there. The funeral was attended by a small number of individuals, and Sikubwabo was interned in an unmarked grave at a local public cemetery. The cemetery was then damaged due to extensive flooding later that year and in subsequent years.

Ryandikayo

The OTP today confirms the death of Ryandikayo, one of the remaining fugitives indicted by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR).

Ryandikayo was born in Gishyita commune, Kibuye prefecture. He was a business owner in this area who operated a restaurant and a brick factory.

Ryandikayo was first indicted by the ICTR in November 1995, together with many others, for crimes committed in Kibuye prefecture. He was charged with seven counts of genocide, complicity in genocide, conspiracy to commit genocide, murder as a crime against humanity, extermination as a crime against humanity, rape as a crime against humanity and persecution as a crime against humanity.

Together with ICTR convicts Clement Kayishema, Mika Muhimana, Vincent Rutaganira and ICTR accused Charles Sikubwabo, Ryandikayo was alleged to have committed crimes against Tutsis in Gishyita commune from as early as 7 April 1994, including at the Mubuga dispensary, the Murangara Church and the Mubuga Church. Riyandikayo was also alleged to have instigated and participated in massacres at locations throughout the Bisesero area, which resulted in the murder of thousands of Tutsis.

In July 1994, Ryandikayo fled Rwanda for then-Zaire, now the Democratic Republic of Congo (“DRC”). In November 1996, he was residing in Kashusha camp, but, as a result of combat activities in the area, Ryandikayo fled westwards, as did many other ethnic Hutu Rwandan men. Ryandikayo was already suffering health issues prior to his departure from Rwanda in July 1994, which were exacerbated during his arduous journey.

He fled to a camp in the Republic of Congo, where he was recruited to serve in the ethnic Hutu armed militia that later became the Forces démocratiques de libération du Rwanda (FDLR). He then travelled to Kinshasa, DRC for this purpose.

Following a challenging investigation, the OTP was able to conclude that Ryandikayo passed away in 1998, most likely due to illness, sometime after arriving in Kinshasa.

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