, ARUSHA, Dec 10 – One of nine top fugitive Rwandan genocide suspects, a former mayor accused of slaughtering thousands of people and organising mass rapes in 1994, has been arrested, the United Nations said.
Ladislas Ntaganzwa, who had a $5 million (4.6 million euro) US bounty on his head, has been indicted by a UN-backed court for genocide and crimes against humanity.
Around 800,000 people — mostly members of the minority Tutsi community — were slaughtered in the 100-day orgy of violence in 1994, largely by ethnic Hutus.
Ntaganzwa is accused of organising “the massacre of thousands of Tutsis at various locations,” the UN-backed Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals (MICT) said in a statement received Thursday.
“He was also alleged to have orchestrated the rape and sexual violence committed against many women,” it said.
Ntaganzwa, 53, who was arrested in the Democratic Republic of Congo on Wednesday, the MICT said, is expected to face trial in Rwanda on nine counts of genocide, crimes against humanity and violating the Geneva Conventions.
No details of his arrest were given.
The US State Department, which offered the $5 million bounty for his arrest under its War Crimes Rewards Program, lists Ntaganzwa as “one of the main instigators of the genocide” in Rwanda’s southern Butare district.
“Ntaganzwa is also accused of making speeches calling for the elimination of Tutsis in the region and facilitating the killing of Tutsi refugees,” the US bounty notice adds.
Ntaganzwa was intially wanted for trial at the UN-backed International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), based in the northern Tanzanian town of Arusha.
But his case was transferred to Rwanda in 2012, and the MICT prosecutor Hassan Jallow has asked authorities in DR Congo to transfer him to Kigali.
According to a 44-page indictment issued by the ICTR, Ntaganzwa helped to establish, train and arm the local Interahamwe militia, the Hutu youth wing of the political party he ran in the Nyakizu area, “with the intent to exterminate the Tutsi population and eliminate its ‘accomplices’.”
The indictment also accuses Ntaganzwa of personally leading a series of massacres of Tutsi civilians, including at attack on a church where thousands had taken shelter.
Ntaganzwa fled Rwanda for neighbouring Congo soon after the genocide and was arrested there earlier this week. It is believed he had lived for years under the protection of Rwanda’s FDLR rebels, a Hutu group seeking the overthrow of the Tutsi-led government in Kigali.
Announcing Ntaganzwa’s arrest, Jallow, “thanked the authorities of the DRC for their cooperation and urged them to transfer the accused to Rwanda for trial without delay,” according to the statement.
There was no immediate reaction from Kinshasha.
Eight other fugitives remain at large: Felicien Kabuga, Augustin Bizimana, Protais Mpiranya, Fulgence Kayishema, Pheneas Munyarugarama, Aloys Ndimbati, Ryandikayo, and Charles Sikubwabo.