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U.N. tribunal seizes Rwandans on genocide charges

Kambanda July 18, 1997
Web posted at: 2:23 p.m. EDT (1823 GMT)

NAIROBI, Kenya (CNN) -- Kenyan police have arrested the former prime minister of Rwanda and nine others in Nairobi on genocide charges stemming from the 1994 civil war.

The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda said those arrested Thursday "are all notable figures who are believed to have participated in the genocide, crimes against humanity and violations of the Geneva Conventions, committed in Rwanda in 1994."

More than 500,000 men, women and children, mainly ethnic Tutsis, were killed by Hutu extremists between April and July 1994. A number of members of the Hutu government fled to Kenya after the civil war.

Tribunal: Ex-premier failed to stop massacres

Jean Kambanda, the prime minister in the hard-line Hutu government during the four-month war, was the first of the group to be arrested. The tribunal alleges that Kambanda did nothing to prevent the massacres. Rwandan state TV footage from 1994 allegedly shows the then-premier inciting people to participate in the massacre.

Others arrested included:

  • Pauline Nyiramasuhuko, the former minister of Family Welfare and the Advancement of Women.
  • Nyiramasuhuko's son, former militiaman Arsene Shalom Ntahobali. He and his mother are accused of genocide and crimes against humanity at the Commune of Butare.c
  • Sylvain Nsabimana, a former mayor of the southern town of Butare.
  • Army officers Gratien Kabiligi and Aloys Ntabakuze, both accused of engaging in massacres of Tutsi civilians.

Tribunal 'without sleep' for week

Bernard Muna, the tribunal's deputy prosecutor, said he and other tribunal officials had worked on the case in the Kenyan capital "without sleep" for seven days. Thirty tribunal officials worked with 36 Kenya police officers and armed police to make the arrests, he said.

Skulls

"Basically we waited around their buildings until day dawned and doors were opened. There was no violence. These people have been in hiding," Muna said. He said one suspect, Nsabimana, ran off into the forest and had to be pursued by police.

After arresting the suspects, Kenyan police handed them over to U.S. security forces. Ntahobali and Nsabimana were indicted; the rest were served with warrants of arrest and requests for extradition by the tribunal. The suspects were being moved to tribunal headquarters in the northern Tanzanian town of Arusha.

Before Friday's indictments and seizure of suspects in Kenya, a total of 21 people had been indicted by the tribunal, which has 12 suspects in detention in Arusha.

The U.N. tribunal was set up in November 1994 to bring to justice leaders of the genocide of an estimated 800,000 Tutsis and some moderate Hutus in Rwanda in 1994. Its maximum penalty is life imprisonment.