General Augustin Bizimungu, Chief of Staff of the Rwandan Army from April to July 1994, has been arrested in Angola and transferred to the custody of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR).
The arrest was effected by the Angolan authorities acting on the basis of an arrest warrant issued by ICTR on 12 April 2002 at Luena in eastern Angola. According to the Angolan authorities Bizimungu had been fighting for the Angolan rebel movement, UNITA, and was identified during the process of demobilization of UNITA forces in the context of the Angola peace settlement. This was the first arrest on behalf of the ICTR to be carried out in Angola.
Following the plane crash on 6 April 1994 in which the President of Rwanda, Juvénal Habyarimana, and the then Army Chief of Staff, Colonel Déogratias Nsabimana, were killed, Bizimungu was promoted to the rank of General and appointed Chief of Staff. He is one of the most senior former Rwandan military commanders apprehended by the Tribunal to date. Bizimungu is also first to be detained of nine principal genocide suspects named by the Government of the United States in its Rewards for Justice Programme, which is supporting the Tribunal's efforts to apprehend high-ranking fugitives from justice.
Bizimungu is jointly indicted with four other accused, General Augustin Ndindiliyimana, former Chief of Staff of the Gendarmerie Nationale, Major Francois-Xavier Nzuwonemeye, Commander of the Reconnaissance Batallion, Captain Innocent Sagahutu second in command of the Reconnaissance Batallion (who are already in the Tribunal's custody), and Major Protais Mpiranya, Commander of the Presidential Guard. The indictment contains twelve counts of which ten concern General Bizimungu. They include conspiracy to commit genocide, genocide, five counts of crimes against humanity for murder, extermination, rape persecution and other inhumane acts and serious violations of the Geneva Conventions.
According to the indictment, between April and July 1994, General Augustin Bizimungu and other Rwandan Army officers ordered, encouraged and supported the massacres against the Tutsi population and moderate Hutu. From 1992 onwards he had made statements identifying Tutsi and moderate Hutu as "the enemy" and had contributed to the training and arming of militia groups.
The Registrar of the Tribunal, Mr. Adama Dieng, thanked the authorities of Angola and the United States for their assistance in the identification and arrest of Bizimungu. Duty Counsel will be assigned by the Registrar to represent General Bizimungu until he engages Counsel of his own or is assigned Counsel under the rules of the Tribunal. He will make his initial appearance before a Judge of the Tribunal shortly.