Arusha, May 15, 2002 (FH) - Former commander of the prestigious High Military school of Rwanda" Ecole Supérieure Militaire" (ESM), Brigadier General Léonidas Rusatira was on Wednesday arrested in Belgium on charges related to the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. Rusatira was arrested at the request of the prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, Carla Del Ponte.

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Rusatira is mainly charged with the killings of ethnic Tutsi that had taken refugee at the "Ecole Technique Officielle (ETO)" institute of technology in the Rwandan capital, Kigali. The refugees, put at about 2,000 by several human rights organisations, were killed after UN soldiers that had been guarding the complex pulled out on April 11th, 1994. The killings at ETO are regarded as one of the main failures of the UN in the 1994 genocide. Rusatira is the second person arrested by the ICTR in connection with the ETO killings. The first was George Rutaganda who was convicted of genocide in 1999 by the ICTR. He was sentenced to life in prison. He has appealed the judgement and the sentence. According to the indictment Rusatira asked UN soldiers guarding the refugees to leave the complex as the Rwandan army would protect the refugees. The UN soldiers left the complex on April 11th, 1994. "Rusatira during his visits at ETO before and during 11 April 1994, but in particular in the morning of 11 April 1994," reads the indictment, " knew that the UNAMIR Belgian soldiers would leave the ETO, and that afterward, the thousands of refugees remaining there, will be massacred by the surrounding soldiers and interahamwe, but neither prevented the killing nor punished the attackers acting under his command". "In the afternoon of 11 April 1994, immediately after UNAMIR (United Nations Assistance Mission to Rwanda) Belgian soldiers left, an attack was launched against the refugees at ETO by the soldiers, Interahamwe (militias allied to the then ruling party, MRND) and gendarmes who were surrounding the school". "During this attack, Rusatira was present and led the soldiers, while the Interahamwe were led by George Rutaganda, at that time vice president of the national committee of the Interahamwe. Rusatira joined the current gouvernement in Rwanda after the genocide. He fled the country in 1996. He was enlisted in the new Rwanda Army with the rank of Colonel. GG/FH(AR-0515e)