Arusha, 19 February 2008 (FH) - Callixte Nzabonimana, a former Rwandan minister, wanted for the past seven years for his participation in the 1994 genocide, has been arrested in Tanzania, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) announced Tuesday.

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The spokesperson for the ICTR, Roland Amoussouga, disclosed to the Hirondelle Agency that the defendant, former Minister of Youth and Sports in the interim government in power during the genocide, was arrested
Monday in Kigoma, in western Tanzania.

Fourteen of the 19 members of the government have been arrested by the ICTR. Of those that have been tried, four, including Prime Minister Jean Kambanda, were sentenced to life in prison and two were acquitted.

According to the representative of Rwandan government to the ICTR, Mr. Aloys Mutabingwa, the arrest was ‘'a big catch...I must appreciate the level of co-operation by the Tanzanian police to the ICTR."

The ICTR Prosecutor, Justice Hassan Abubacar Jallow said:' this is a significant arrest given the profile and level of involvement in the genocide by the accused.

Of the six most wanted people, Nzabonimana is the second to be arrested after Augustin Ngirabatware in Germany last September.

A UN plane was sent yesterday afternoon and the accused was expected to be brought to the Special UN Detention Facility in Arusha Tuesday night, said Justice Jallow. Mr Nzabonimana is expected to make an initial appearance Wednesday.

According to an indictment issued by the prosecutor, the accused played an important role in the massacres of Tutsis in Gitarama central Rwanda, his native region.

"He frequently visited mayors to organize massacres in their communes. Moreover, he personally traveled the Hills in company of peasants to be sure that the latter carried out well the orders which were given to them to kill Tutsis ", added the indictment.

The prosecution alleges that between April and July 1994, in Gitarama, the mayors who had refused to carry out the directives of the government to commit massacres of Tutsis or which had not shown zeal in the execution of these directives, as in other regions, were reprimanded or even sometimes physically abused before being dismissed or, worse, being physically eliminated.

"Thus, Nzabonimana, with the participation of the Interahamwe militiamen, MRND, publicly beat the mayor of Rutobwe in the offices of his commune. Moreover, the accused was the main person responsible for the changes to the mayors in Gitarama, being the only minister from this region and the one in charge of "pacification" stipulates the indictment.

Nzabonimana formed part of the fugitives for which the US government had allotted bounty of up to five million US Dollars to whoever would offer information leading to their arrest.

The accused was also known under the nicknames of Bwarayaze, Bangamwaza or Ephrem Kiloto. He was allegedly hiding in the dense forests of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and some speculated that he was already dead.

The last arrest of a suspect was 16 October of the former sub-prefect of Gisagara, southern Rwanda, Dominique Ntawukuriryayo, in France. The case of his transfer to Arusha is before the French court.

Since its creation in 1994, the ICTR has indicted 90 persons. 35 were tried and 27 accused persons are currently on trial.

The UN has set a deadline of December 2008 to complete all first instance trials and 2010 for the appeals.

© Agence Hirondelle