Rwanda has welcomed a pledge by Zimbabwe to track down a top genocide fugitive believed to be holed up in the country.
Protais Mpiranya, a former commander of the presidential guard in Rwanda before the genocide in 1994 which claimed the lives of close to one million Rwandans, is wanted by a United Nations-backed tribunal to answer charges of manslaughter.
The UN International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) believes Mpiranya is in Zimbabwe.
Although Zimbabwean police authorities have persistently denied his presence in the country, a police spokesperson told the media at the weekend that a special Criminal Investigations Department (CID) taskforce to track down the genocide suspect with a $5 million bounty on his head, had been set up
The development followed sustained pressure from the international community and the media, to compel Zimbabwe to arrest and hand over Mpiranya to the ICTR.
Innocent Chinembiri of the Zimbabwe Republic Police public relations department said a special CID taskforce was to track down Mpiranya.
“Anyone with information on Mpiranya should immediately contact the Criminal Investigations Department’s homicide section or their nearest police station,” said Chinembiri, adding the fugitive is also known as James Kakule and Patrick Sambo.
Rwanda’s prosecutor-general Martin Ngoga welcomed the move.
“The ICTR and Rwanda share the view that fugitive Mpiranya could be in Zimbabwe.
“It is therefore a welcome development that authorities are tracking him down,” Ngoga told a state-run daily in the capital Kigali.
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 with the intent to exterminate the Tutsi population.
It is said that on the morning of April 7 1994, Mpiranya, a major then, commanded a group of presidential guards which tracked down, arrested, sexually assaulted and assassinated former Prime Minister Agathe Uwilingiyimana.