Most wanted Rwandan genocide fugitive appears in court

Former Rwandan police officer Fulgence Kayishema, a long-time fugitive arrested this week for his alleged role in the killing of some 2,000 Tutsis during the 1994 genocide, was arraigned before the Cape Town Magistrates’ Court on Friday.

Kayishema is facing five charges in South Africa, including two counts of fraud for breaching the Immigration Act and one for violating the Refugees Act. The fraud charges have been linked to his asylum and refugee applications, in which he allegedly used a false name and claimed to be Burundian, according to Reuters, citing the court charge sheet.

The suspect reportedly did not enter a plea during the court proceedings. He has been remanded in custody, with the case adjourned to June 2. According to local media, Eric Ntabazalila, the National Prosecuting Authority spokesperson, said the state was opposed to bail.

Kayishema, 62, was arrested on Wednesday on a grape farm in Paarl, near Cape Town, in a joint operation by UN investigators and the South African authorities after being on the run for almost 30 years.

The UN’s International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) said he was “one of the world’s most wanted genocide fugitives,” indicted in 2001 for directly participating in the planning and execution of the massacre of refugees hiding at the Nyange Catholic Church in Kivumu on April 15, 1994. He had a $5 million bounty on his head through the US State Department’s Rewards for Justice Program.

Some 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed in the genocide, which lasted 100 days between April and July 1994.

Kayishema reportedly told journalists in court on Friday that he did not play any role in the violence. “What I can say? We are sorry to hear what was happening,” he was quoted by Reuters as saying.

He will be held at Pollsmoor Prison in Cape Town pending possible extradition to Rwanda.


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