Arusha, August 6, 2012 (FH) – The United States remains committed to help track nine genocide suspects indicted by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, US Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes Issues Stephen Rapp said Monday in Arusha.

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Rapp said the US would maintain its “Rewards for Justice” programme, putting a price on the head of the nine Rwandan accused, and was considering extending the programme to persons wanted by the International Criminal Court.

The US is offering up to $5 million for information leading to the arrest of each ICTR fugitive. The top three most wanted are Félicien Kabuga, believed to have been the main financier of the 1994 genocide; former Rwandan Defence Minister Augustin Bizimana; and former Presidential Guard Commander Protais Mpiranya. If caught, these three will be tried by the Arusha branch of the International Residual Mechanism, which took over some of the ICTR's remaining tasks on July 1.

“The government of the United States of America remains highly committed to bringing these three individuals to justice,’’said Rapp in a press conference in Arusha, the seat of the UN Tribunal.

As the ICTR strives to meet its closure targets, the Tribunal is transferring the case files of the other six fugitives to Rwanda. Rapp said it was also important that the six be caught and transferred to Rwanda for trial.

Speaking about the situation in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, Rapp called for the arrest of rebel leaders Bosco Ntaganda and Sylvestre Mudacumura, who are wanted by the ICC for war crimes.  And he warned against supporting Ntaganda's M23 rebel group, which is currently fighting the Congolese army.

“The United States has repeatedly expressed to the Rwandan government the deep concern about Rwandan support to the Congolese rebel groups called M23 as outlined in the UN group of experts' report,” Rapp told journalists.

And he added that sponsors of the violence could be held to account. “If aid is provided to armed groups and those groups do commit acts of violence, if they do attack cities and subject people to murder and mayhem and to rape, those who arm them and provide support for them can be held to account, and that is an important principle,” Rapp said.