Joseph Nzabirinda, organiser of youth movements in Ngoma commune, Butare prefecture, was arrested in Brussels, Belgium, today on the basis of an arrest warrant issued by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR).
This brings the total number of arrests by the Tribunal this year to twelve, the highest number since 1997.
The indictment against Nzabirinda contains four counts charging him with genocide, or, in the alternative, complicity in genocide, and crimes against humanity for extermination and rape. He is alleged to have carried out those crimes in Ngoma commune together with Joseph Kanyabashi, the bourgmestre (mayor), who is currently on trial before the ICTR in the “Butare” case. The crimes were said to have taken place in Sahera sector, Ngoma commune and at nearby Kabakobwa hill where several thousand Tutsi were killed.
Nzabirinda, nicknamed “Biroto”, was born in 1957 in Sahera sector. He was formerly an investigator working for the defence team of Sylvain Nsabimana, former prefect of Butare, another of the accused in the “Butare” case. Nzabirinda’s contract was rescinded earlier this month when Registry officials established that he had presented false identity documents to the Tribunal.
Since the establishment of ICTR a total of 56 individuals have been arrested for crimes under the Tribunal’s jurisdiction. The arrests have been made in Cameroon (9), Kenya (13), France (2), Togo (2), Belgium (6), Mali (2), Benin (2), Namibia (1), United Kingdom (1), Burkina Faso (1), Denmark (1), Zambia (3), Tanzania (5), Senegal (1), Switzerland (2), USA (1), Ivory Coast (2), South Africa (1) and the Netherlands (1).
Of these, six, including former Prime Minister Jean Kambanda, have already begun serving their prison sentences. One was acquitted and is awaiting an appeal by the Prosecutor, four, including Nzabirinda, are yet to be transferred to Arusha and 45 are detained in the ICTR Detention Facility in Arusha.