The tribunal trying suspects of the 1994 Rwandan genocide has petitioned the United Nations Security Council to ensure Zimbabwe cooperates in arresting a top suspect believed to be hiding in the country.
International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ITCR) chief prosecutor Justice Hassan Jallow said there has been little co-operation from Harare in apprehending Potrais Mpiranya, a former top soldier in Rwanda during the genocide.
In a letter to the UN Security Council last week, Justice Jallow said there were indications Mpiranya was enjoying high- level protection in Zimbabwe.
Mpiranya is one of the most wanted fugitives and has a $5 million bounty on his head. He was a commander of the Rwandan Presidential Guard and allegedly masterminded the genocide that claimed the lives of close to a million Rwandans of Tutsi ethnic origin.
Politically moderate Rwandans from the majority Hutu ethnic group were also targeted during the mass killings. Rwandans who masterminded the genocide have been taken to the ICTR in Arusha, Tanzania, for trial.
Mpiranya was indicted by the ICTR but has remained elusive and is believed to be staying in Zimbabwe. Police in Harare said there were no genocide suspects in Zimbabwe.
Wayne Bvudzijena, national police spokesperson, recently told NewsDay: “We do not have those people here.”
But Justice Jallow, in his letter to the UN Security Council said: “For over a year now my office has been in contact with the government of Zimbabwe in relation to the fugitive Protais Mpiranya, former commander of the Rwandan Presidential Guard and a top level indictee of the Tribunal.
“There are indications that Mpiranya has connections with that country and has at several periods resided therein. During my visit to Harare in 2009, I was assured by officials of the government of Zimbabwe of their cooperation in this matter.”
Justice Jallow said the Zimbabwean government should fully co-operate to ensure Mpiranya was arrested and brought before the criminal tribunal.
“Investigators from my office continue to work with their Zimbabwean counterparts on the case,” Justice Jallow said.
“I would urge the Zimbabwe government to devote top priority to the case of this high-level fugitive in order to secure his location, arrest and transfer to the Tribunal.” Justice Jallow said the majority of the fugitives were staying in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Kenya.
“It is necessary that the governments of the DRC, Kenya, Zimbabwe and neighbouring states intensify co-operation and search for the 10 fugitives, all of whom, according to our sources, are within east, central and southern Africa,” he said.
The other high-ranking fugitives include Felicien Kabuga and Augustine Bizimana. They also have $5 million bounties on their heads. Kabuga, a wealthy businessman accused of bankrolling the army and militias that perpetrated the genocide, is believed to be holed up in Kenya.
Bizimana, a former defence minister, is believed to be in eastern DRC. Justice Jallow said tracking these suspects was a top priority of the ICTR.
“Tracking efforts to secure the arrest and transfer to the ICTR of Felicien Kabuga, Protais Mpiranya and Augustine Bizimana continue to be a top priority of our Tracking Team,” he said.