Global Policy Forum

Rwanda Ex-Mayors on Genocide Charge:


June 21, 2001

Two former Rwandan officials wanted on charges of involvement in the 1994 genocide have been arrested in Tanzania at the request of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), based in Arusha, Tanzania. The two men arrested are both on the category one list of Rwandan genocide suspects, in other words those who are accused of planning and organizing the slaughter. They were arrested on Wednesday in Kigoma, Tanzania, in a camp that is normally home to Burundian refugees.

One of the men, Sylvestre Gacumbitsi, the former mayor of Rusumo, was immediately transferred to the Arusha detention facility. The other, Jean Mpambara, formerly mayor of Rukara, is still in the process of having his identity checked.


Mr Gacumbitsi is alleged to have been responsible for the killing of an estimated 20,000 Tutsis who had taken refuge in a Roman Catholic Church. Mr Mpambara is also accused of presiding over the killing of Tutsis.

This is not the first time a genocide suspect has been arrested in Tanzania, but it is the first time a suspect has been apprehended in one of the country's many refugee camps.

The ICTR was set up at the end of 1994 to try those who were considered the ringleaders of the genocide that left at least 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus dead. It has been criticised for the slow progress it has made. So far the court has completed the trials of just nine people, eight of whom have been found guilty. Earlier this month the think tank International Crisis Group accused the court of "incompetence".

The arrests follow an official visit to Rwanda by Tanzanian President Benjamin Mkapa.

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