Arusha, 12 June 2008 (FH) - Protais Mpiranya, the former head of the Rwandan presidential guard during the 1994 genocide, one of the most wanted persons indicted by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), may be living in Zimbabwe, according to the British weekly newspaper, The Sunday Times.

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"One of most infamous Rwandan genocidaires may be hiding in Zimbabwe, where he is suspected of having business dealings with former officers close to President Robert Mugabe", the weekly said in its 8 June edition.

Mpiranya is accused by the UN Tribunal of genocide and crimes against humanity.

In 1994, he was commander of the presidential guard (PG), one of the key posts during the three months which the genocide lasted and which resulted in more than 800, 000 deaths, according to the UN.

According to the indictment issued by the ICTR, Mpiranya was implicated in campaigns of racial hatred, distribution of weapons and training of militias in order to eliminate the ethnic Tutsi minority and opponents to the Hutu extremists, who planned and carried out the genocide.

Mpiranya is also alleged to have given the order to his men to assassinate on 7 April 1994 then Prime Minister Agathe Uwilingiyimana, as well as the ten Belgian peacekeepers, charged with protecting her.

Belgium sentenced in 2007 Major Bernard Ntuyahaga to 20 years in prison for his role in the latter crime.

According to The Sunday Times, Mpiranya sometimes lived in Congo. "It is his connections with Zimbabwean officers, of which some have formed their own company with the aim of plundering Congo's resources, who enabled him to stay safely in Zimbabwe", explains the British weekly.

The revelation comes as the president of the ICTR, Dennis Byron and Prosecutor, Hassan Bubacar Jallow, requested last week the United Nations for an extension of one year of the mandate of the Tribunal.

The official conclusion is due at the end of the year for the first instance trials. Thirteen accused persons are still at large.


© Hirondelle News Agency