Arusha, December 20, 2013 (FH) – As the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) prepares to shut its doors at the end of 2014, nine of its accused are still on the run.

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The hunt for the fugitives “remains a priority”, according to a December 5 statement by Hassan Bubacar Jallow, Prosecutor of the ICTR and of the International Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (MICT), set up by the UN to handle the residual matters of the ICTR and ICTY. Jallow called on the United Nations to ensure that member states arrest three men in particular.  The most famous of the fugitives is Félicien Kabuga, whom the ICTR suspects to be hiding in Kenya, only six hours by road from the Tribunal. Kabuga is said to have purchased the machetes used to kill Tutsis in Rwanda in 1994, and is accused by ICTR prosecutors of being the main financier of the genocide. Kabuga grew from a humble background to become Rwanda’s richest man at the time, and is related by marriage to the late ex-president Juvénal Habyarimana. Now aged 78, he was president of the Funding Committee for National Defence (known by its French acronym FDN) and was also on the board of Radio-télévision libre des mille collines (RTLM), the radio station that spread hate messages during the genocide. Kabuga, who was a member of Habyarimana’s MRND party, is the father-in-law of former Planning Minister Augustin Ngirabatware. Ngirabatware was sentenced to 35 years in jail by the ICTR and is now awaiting his appeals judgment.Also on the list of top ICTR fugitives is former Defence Minister Augustin Bizimana, he too a member of the MRND party of Habyarimana, whose assassination on April 6, 1994, sparked the genocide. According to the UN, some 800,000 people, mainly Tutsis, were killed in the genocide between April and July 1994. Bizimana is accused of having participated in high level planning of the genocide. Several ICTR sources say he is hiding in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). However, sources close to the former regime say he died in Congo-Brazzaville.The third most wanted ICTR fugitive is Major Protais Mpiranya, who was in charge of Habyarimana’s presidential guard. This elite military unit was very active in the massacres. According to the ICTR, Mpiranya, who was long time a commander of the Hutu rebel FDLR movement in the DRC, is being protected by senior officials in Zimbabwe. Other sources say he is dead.Kabuga, Bizimana and Mpiranya are “big fish”, according to ICTR Prosecutor Jallow, and should be tried by the IMCT. Special hearings were held in 2011 and 2012, at Jallow’s request, to preserve evidence against them in case they are arrested one day.The case files of the other six ICTR fugitives have been transferred to Rwanda. They concern  Lieutenant-Colonel Phénéas Munyarugarama; former mayors Charles Sikubwabo, Ladislas Ntaganzwa and Aloys Ndimbati ; former judicial police inspector Fulgence Kayishema; and former restaurant owner Charles Ryandikayo. These six are said to be hiding in the DRC. It is now up to Rwanda, with the help of the IMCT, to track them down and have them arrested.ER/ JC