, THE HAGUE, Jan 24 – Dutch authorities have arrested a Rwandan man suspected of being a Hutu extremist during the central African nation’s genocide in 1994, the justice ministry said on Thursday.
“The Public Prosecutor’s office has detained a 54-year-old man in order to have him extradited to Rwanda,” a statement said.
The man, identified only as “Jean Baptiste M.”, was arrested in the central town of Leusden after immigration authorities revoked his residency permit in June because he was suspected of involvement in the genocide which saw the slaughter of more than 800,000 people, mainly Tutsis.
Jean Baptiste M. was allegedly the leader of a Hutu extremist party who prepared and deployed murder squads in the southwestern Kigali township of Nyakabanda, the statement said.
He is also suspected of drawing up Tutsi hit-lists, giving guns to Hutu militia, setting up roadblocks and carrying out attacks on Tutsis, it added.
Last month a Dutch court ruled that another suspected Hutu militia leader could be extradited to Kigali for his role in the mass killings.
Only identified as “Jean-Claude I.”, he is accused of involvement in a mass killing at a school outside Kigali.
Rwanda’s bloodshed was sparked when a plane carrying the country’s then-president Juvenal Habyarimana, a Hutu, was shot down on April 6, 1994.
His death was blamed on Rwanda’s minority Tutsi population, and over the next three months some 800,000 people died in an orgy of violence, according to UN figures.
Dutch courts can try foreign suspects for genocide if the act was committed after October 1970, following a changed law to broaden prosecution possibilities for the most serious of all crimes.
In the first conviction of its kind, Rwandan-born Dutch citizen Yvonne Basebya was jailed last March for six years for inciting genocide during the 1994 massacres.
But Dutch prosecutors said they favoured Rwanda-based investigations and prosecutions for foreigners because “the evidence is there and the participants are well versed in the language, culture and the background to the events.”
“Most victims and their relatives are also there,” the public prosecutor’s office said.