Arusha, August 13, 2002 (FH) - The Angolan government on Monday announced it had discovered ex-Rwandan Chief of Staff of the Rwandan armed forces, Augustin Bizimungu according to the Associated Press news agency. Bizimungu is wanted by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) for genocide crimes allegedly committed in 1994.

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The agency reported that Angolan authorities said in an official state radio communiqué that Bizimungu was identified among UNITA rebels, gathered at a demobilisation camp. His arrest is one of the most important ones since Protais Zigiranyirazo, former president Juvénal Habyarimana's brother-in-law, was arrested in Belgium on July 26, 2001. The communiqué said he is to be handed over to the United Nations ICTR. However, ICTR Chief of Press and Public Affairs, Tom Kennedy said that by Tuesday morning the Tribunal was not yet in position to comment on the issue. The Tribunal had issued a warrant of arrest for Bizimungu dated April 12th, this year. The Tribunal has indicted Bizimungu, a native of Byumba province in Rwanda, jointly with four other military figures. They are: Augustin Ndindiliyimana, Protais Mpiranya, Francois-Xavier Nzuwonemeye and Innocent Sagahutu. They face charges including genocide, conspiracy to commit genocide, complicity in genocide and crimes against humanity. The 1994 Rwanda genocide claimed as per on official government figure, about one million lives mainly Tutsis and moderate Hutus. According to the ICTR indictment, Bizimungu was appointed to the position of Chief of Staff of the Rwandan army on April 16th, 1994. "In his capacity as the Chief of Staff of the Rwandan army, Augustin Bizimungu exercised authority over the entire Rwandan army," reads the indictment. The indictment states that on April 7th, 1994, after Bizimungu was informed that the killings of the Tutsi population had started and that civilians had sought refuge at the Ruhengeri military camp; he ordered his subordinates to expel them and to deny access to others. Two civilians begged him to help them but he ordered that they be pushed out of the camp. These civilians were executed shortly, as well as another group of women and children who were massacred by civilians in his presence but he did nothing to help them. Prosecution maintains that from late 1990 until July 1994 Bizimungu and the others conspired among themselves to work out a plan with intent to exterminate the civilian Tutsi population and to eliminate members of the opposition so that they could remain in power. The prosecution further adds that several senior officers in the Rwandan Army including Bizimungu publicly stated that the extermination of the Tutsi would be the inevitable consequence of any resumption of hostilities by the RPF (Rwandan Patriotic Front) or of the implementation of the (1993) Arusha Accords. "Bizimungu stated that if the RPF attacked again, he did not want to see one Tutsi alive in his sector of operations," states the indictment. He fled Rwanda in July 1994, after the RPF took over Kigali. On July 29th, this year U. S. Ambassador at large for War Crimes Issues, Pierre-Richard Prosper, announced in Kinshasa, Congo, that the U. S. government was offeringrewards of up to 5 million US dollars for information leading to the arrest and transfer to the U. N. Tribunal for Rwanda of nine suspects, including Bizimungu. The Angolan government said last week that about 60 Rwandans were identified among the 82,000 UNITA troops who have entered into a peace deal to end Angola's two-decade civil war. As well as the Rwandans, about 500 other foreigners are Congolese. SW/DO/FH (AR-0813 E)