Arusha, September 13, 2002 (FH) - The former mayor of Murambi commune in the North Rwanda province of Mutara, Jean-Baptiste Gatete, was on Tuesday arrested in Congo-Brazzaville on genocide charges, US based Associated Press has reported. Gatete is known to have been one of the first people to be sought by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR).

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Gatete was arrested by local police in Ngombe village, north of Brazzaville. He is believed to have entered Congo-Brazzaville in 1996 under the name Jean Nsengiyumva. Until his arrest, he worked as a French teacher. The ICTR has been pursuing Gatete for allegedly participating in the killings of ethnic Tutsis in the East Rwanda province of Kibungo during the 1994 genocide. An estimated one million Tutsis were killed during the genocide. Gatete was appointed mayor of Murambi in the 80s. He was first accused of human rights violations shortly after the beginning of the RPA war in 1990. Human rights organisations accused him of participating in the killings of a dozen Tutsis arrested on allegations of complicity with the rebels. The victims are said to have been in transit to Byumba prison. Gatete was dismissed from his position by a coalition government in 1993. The dismissal was recommended by a government commission set up to evaluate the performance of state institutions. He then worked for the ministry of family and gender. Since the RPA victory in 1994, Gatete has reportedly taken refugee in several countries including Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The registrar of the ICTR, Adama Dieng, in February travelled to Congo-Brazzaville and the DRC requesting for co-operation in arresting Rwandan genocide suspects. The authorities in both countries promised to co-operate. AT/GG/FH(AR-0913e)