Zimbabwe police tighten hunt for Rwandan genocide fugitive
Posted Friday, September 21 2012 at 01:00
Wanted man. Zimbabwe has previously been accused of sheltering, Protais Mpiranya, who now has a $5m bounty on his head.
Zimbabwean police have launched a manhunt for long time Rwanda genocide fugitive Protais Mpiranya, who has a $5 million bounty on his head.
The move followed years of denial by the southern African country that the former commander of the Rwanda presidential guard was hiding in Zimbabwe.
Mpiranya is wanted by the International Criminal Tribunal of Rwanda (ICTR) in connection with the 1994 genocide, where close to one million Tutsis and moderate Hutus were brutally killed.
Police Criminal Investigations Officer Peter Magwenzi said Mpiranya is suspected to be using two other names, Theophase Mahuku and James Kakule.
“We want him dead or alive,” he was quoted on Wednesday. “We don’t know how long he has been in the country but we are looking for information that can lead to his arrest.’
Last year, ICTR complained to the United Nations that Harare was refusing to cooperate in the hunt for the genocide fugitives, including Mpiranya.
Immigration’s Principal Director Clemence Masanga told a parliamentary committee hearing last year that there was no evidence that Mpiranya ever entered Zimbabwe.
“We have no records within our system about this person and the only refugee holding centre in our country is Tongogara Camp and everyone who is at that camp is documented,” Masanga said.
“Yes, this has been a topical issue in and outside the country, but all efforts have been made to check all these allegations.” He said the department is cooperating with Interpol and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees over Mpiranya’s case.
“Interpol have written to us and enquired through our national police structures about Mpiranya and investigations are ongoing,” he said.
Zimbabwe hosts thousands of refugees from Rwanda and most of them have refused to return home voluntarily, fearing retribution.
A team from the Rwandan government visited Zimbabwe last year and tried to convince the refugees to return home under a special dispensation supported by UNCHR. But the response was reportedly poor. The ICTR plans to charge Mpiranya with crimes against humanity arising from the Rwandan genocide.