The United Kingdom has asked Zimbabwe and other countries accused of harbouring fugitives of the 1994 Rwandan genocide to cooperate with the United Nations (UN) International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) to ensure the suspects are arrested and brought to justice.
Zimbabwe is accused by the ICTR of harbouring Protais Mpiranya, a former commander of the presidential guard in the then Rwandan Armed Forces during the genocide.
But Zimbabwean police have said they were not aware of the presence of the genocide fugitive despite insistence by the tribunal.
“We do not know of his presence in Zimbabwe,” Wayne Bvudzijena, chief police spokesperson, told NewsDay last week.
“As police we are unaware of his presence here.”
Kenya and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have also been accused of harbouring suspects of the genocide that claimed the lives of 800 000 Rwandans from the minority Tutsi ethnic group.
The most wanted man in connection with the genocide, Felicien Kabuga, a wealthy businessman accused of financing the mass killings, is said to be in Kenya while Augustin Bizimana, a former defence minister in Rwanda, is believed to be in eastern DRC.
All three men have a $5 million bounty each on their heads.
British Foreign Office minister Henry Bellingham said he expected all countries to cooperate for fugitives of the genocide to face justice.
“I encourage all countries to provide the ICTR with full co-operation as it seeks to bring to justice the remaining fugitives,” Bellingham said in a statement.
Bellingham’s statement followed the transfer to the United Nations Detention Facility in Arusha, Tanzania, of a genocide suspect Bernard Munyagishari, who was arrested in the DRC a few weeks ago.
Last week, prosecutor at the tribunal, Justice Hassan Jallow, complained to the UN Security Council that it was encountering difficulties in tracking Mpiranya.
Mpiranya is accused of crimes against humanity, war crimes and conspiracy to commit genocide, genocide or alternatively complicity in genocide.
He is also accused of distributing weapons to the militia and to certain members of the civilian population with the intent to exterminate the Tutsi population.
He is accused of taking into custody 10 Belgian peacekeepers from a UN peacekeeping mission who had been guarding the Rwandan Prime Minister’s house and killing them.