Arusha, June 26, 2012 (FH) – The Arusha branch of the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals is to start work Monday. Its tasks will include tracking the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda's three top fugitives.

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The most well known is businessman Félicien Kabuga, alleged financier of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. Accusations against Kabuga include, amongst other things, that he ordered the machetes that were widely used to kill Tutsis during the genocide. He is a relative of the former president Juvénal Habyarimana.

The other two top fugitives are former Defence Minister Augustin Bizimana and former  presidential guard commander Protais Mpiranya.

ICTR Prosecutor Hassan Bubacar Jallow, who from Monday will also be Prosecutor of the International Residual Mechanism, has always called for these “big fish” to be tried by an international court. The ICTR has held “special deposition” hearings to preserve evidence against them in case they are brought to justice one day.

“Tracking of the three top fugitives continues to be a challenge, with information at our disposal continuing to link Kabuga with Kenya and Mpiranya with Zimbabwe and Bizimana with various locations in the same region,” Jallow said in a June 7 speech at the United Nations. “It is necessary in the interests of peace and of justice that all states collaborate and support the ICTR for the arrestof these fugitives.”

Some sources claim that Bizimana and Mpiranya are dead, but the Prosecutor's office denies this. According to the Prosecutor, such claims are a ruse to help them escape justice.

There are six other ICTR fugitives considered less high level. The Tribunal has started transferring their case files to Rwanda as part of its closure strategy. The task of tracking them will thus fall to the Rwandan Prosecutor General. The six include a lieutenant-colonel, three former mayors, a former police inspector and a restaurant owner.