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Rwandan genocide suspect seeks political asylum in South Africa after arrest, further delaying extradition


  • Rwandan genocide suspect, Fulgence Kayishema, who was just lately apprehended in South Africa after years on the run, is now looking for political asylum within the nation, in response to his lawyer.
  • Kayishema, a former police officer in Rwanda, is accused of being concerned in mass killings through the 1994 genocide, significantly in an assault on a church the place over 2,000 individuals looking for refuge have been murdered.
  • He has been needed by the United Nations’ Worldwide Residual Mechanism for Legal Tribunals for genocide and crimes towards humanity.

One of many final remaining suspects accused of orchestrating the brutal killings of a few of the a whole bunch of 1000’s of individuals massacred within the Rwandan genocide almost 30 years in the past will apply for political asylum in South Africa after he was lastly tracked down and arrested, his lawyer mentioned Tuesday,

The transfer will doubtlessly additional delay Fulgence Kayishema’s extradition to his residence nation to face long-awaited justice at a genocide trial.

Kayishema, a former police officer in Rwanda, is among the final 4 fugitives being sought by the United Nations’ Worldwide Residual Mechanism for Legal Tribunals for genocide and crimes towards humanity associated to the 100 days of horror that unfolded within the East African nation in 1994.

Kayishema was charged by the tribunal in 2001 with being a central determine within the slaughter of greater than 2,000 individuals looking for refuge at a church within the early days of the genocide.

Now 62 years previous, he was arrested final month within the small city of Paarl close to Cape City, South Africa, having been on the run for half his life.

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Greater than 800,000 individuals have been slaughtered in Rwanda’s genocide when militias made up primarily of members of the Hutu ethnic group turned on their Tutsi neighbors. The killings, an try to wipe out the minority Tutsis, have been triggered on April 6, 1994, when a aircraft carrying Rwanda President Juvénal Habyarimana, a Hutu, was shot down, killing the chief.

Kayishema is accused of being one of many leaders of a Hutu mob that killed Tutsi males, ladies and youngsters who have been hiding within the Catholic church to flee the sudden eruption of violence. Kayishema and others tried to burn down the church, and when that failed, they used a bulldozer to smash it down, crushing to loss of life the Tutsis inside, in response to the costs towards him.

Finally, greater than 2,000 individuals have been killed in and across the church, the genocide indictment towards Kayishema says.

The U.N. tribunal desires Kayishema to be despatched to one of many seats of the tribunal in Arusha, Tanzania, after which to Rwanda for trial, however it’s unclear how lengthy it’s going to take for South Africa to extradite him.

Following his arrest on Could 24, Kayishema was charged at a earlier court docket look in Cape City with 54 counts of immigration offenses and fraud for faking paperwork to enter and stay in South Africa. Components of that case should first unfold. The extradition course of was additional clouded Tuesday when his lawyer introduced that Kayishema will now declare political asylum.

Fulgence Kayishema sits within the Justice of the Peace’s Court docket in Cape City, South Africa, on Could 26, 2023. (AP Picture/Nardus Engelbrecht, File)

Kayishema left Rwanda in 1994 “out of concern for his life,” lawyer Juan Smuts informed reporters after the listening to.

He hid in no less than three different African nations earlier than arriving in South Africa someday between 2000 and 2002, Smuts mentioned. Smuts mentioned Kayishema was 62 years previous and never 61, as beforehand introduced by South African police.

Smuts mentioned the immigration and fraud expenses towards Kayishema must be placed on maintain whereas his software for asylum was thought-about by authorities. South African prosecuting authority spokesman Eric Ntabazalila disputed that and mentioned the asylum declare had no bearing on the legal case towards Kayishema. Prosecutors would additionally quickly launch a case to extradite him for his genocide trial, Ntabazalila mentioned.

Any extradition will probably be delayed for no less than two months, although, after the decide postponed Kayishema’s South African court docket case till Aug. 18. He has not entered any plea on any of the costs and has not utilized for bail. He’s being held in jail.

The killings on the Nyange church in western Rwanda are one among many horrific episodes within the genocide and Rwandans had welcomed Kayishema’s arrest final month. The tribunal mentioned he was one of many world’s most needed genocide fugitives.

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“My want is that he’s introduced again to Rwanda (to) face justice within the presence of survivors whom he dedicated crimes towards,” mentioned Aloys Rwamasirabo, who survived the Nyange church bloodbath however noticed 9 of his youngsters die. “Many harmless individuals perished by the hands of their leaders, together with Kayishema.”

Kayishema did not converse throughout his newest court docket listening to however smiled, waved and gave a thumbs-up to a few of his relations sitting within the courtroom on the finish of the listening to. Smuts mentioned Kayishema’s spouse, youngsters and different relations all now stay in South Africa. Kayishema was guarded by seven armed policeman who watched him as he stood going through the decide.

Kayishema’s case has beforehand pissed off prosecutors on the U.N. tribunal.

They positioned him within the Cape City space way back to 2018, just for South African authorities to fail to behave on the arrest warrant. Kayishema slipped away due to that failure by South Africa to behave, the tribunal mentioned in a few of its studies to the U.N. Safety Council, and it took one other 5 years to search out Kayishema once more and arrest him.

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