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Former Rwandan army officer arrested in London

A former senior army officer in Rwanda, Lieutenant Colonel Tharcisse Muvunyi, was on 5 February 2000 arrested by the British Government in London on the basis of a warrant of arrest issued by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. Muyunyi was the Commander of Ecole des Sous-Officiers (ESO) IN Butare at the time of the Rwandan genocide in 1994

Lt. Colonel Muvunyi is charged with five counts of genocide or, in the alternative, complicity in genocide, direct and public incitement to commit genocide, crimes against humanity (rape), and crimes against humanity (other inhumane acts). His warrant of arrest was signed by Judge Yakov Ostrovsky on 2 February 2000 and transmitted to the British Government on 4 February 2000.

The accused is alleged to have exercised authority and control over all the military operations in Butare Prefecture in southern Rwanda during the 1994 genocide. He allegedly informed the officers and men of the ESO that speeches made by the then Rwandan President Theodore Sindibukwabo and the then Prime Minister Jean Kambanda at Butare on 19 April 1994 that incited the extermination of Tutsis should be considered as orders to be carried out.

Lt. Colonel Muvunyi is further alleged to have made public speeches to incite the population to perpetrate massacres and provide weapons such as grenades to Interahamwe militias to kill Tutsis. Many women and girls were raped in the geographical area under Muvunyi’s command. It is alleged that he knew that these acts were being committed by his subordinates and did nothing to stop them or punish the perpetrators.

Lt. Colonel Muvunyi’s arrest is the first time an individual indicted by the ICTR has been apprehended in the United Kingdom. This arrest follows closely on the heels of the arrest of Augustin Ndindiliyimana, former Chief of Staff of the Gendarmerie Nationale, in Belgium on 29 January 2000, on the basis of a warrant of arrest issued by the ICTR.

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