South African authorities on Wednesday apprehended one of the world’s most wanted fugitives, a man believed to have been involved in the 1994 genocide that devastated the country of Rwanda.
Fulgence Kayishema was arrested in a joint operation by the United Nations’ International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (IRMCT) and South African authorities after more than two decades on the run, ABC News reported. Kayishema is suspected of being one of the masterminds behind the systematic murder of approximately 2,000 Tutsi refugees, including women, men and children, at the Nyange Catholic Church during the 1994 Rwandan Genocide, a press release from the IRMCT stated.
Yesterday afternoon, Fulgence #Kayishema – one of the world’s most wanted genocide fugitives – was arrested in Paarl, South Africa in a joint operation by the #IRMCT Office of the Prosecutor and South African authorities. PR and Prosecutor’s statement 👉🏽https://t.co/JA7QVuCKvZ pic.twitter.com/U5nJyo3LKE
— UNIRMCT (@unirmct) May 25, 2023
Kayishema has been on the run since 2001 when he was initially indicted by the ICTR for his alleged actions. The indictment alleges Kayishema “directly participated in the planning and execution” of Tutsis at the Catholic church, including obtaining and distributing gasoline to aid in the burning of the church with the victims trapped inside. When that plan failed, ICTR authorities allege Kayishema used a bulldozer to bring the church down on top of the Tutsi refugees inside, killing them. Kayishema then allegedly assisted in supervising the transfer of the bodies from the church grounds to mass graves over the course of two days, the press release stated.
“Fulgence Kayishema was a fugitive for more than twenty years. His arrest ensures that he will finally face justice for his alleged crimes,” IRMCT Chief Prosecutor Serge Brammertz, who led the investigation, stated in the release.
“Genocide is the most serious crime known to humankind. The international community has committed to ensure that its perpetrators will be prosecuted and punished. This arrest is a tangible demonstration that this commitment does not fade and that justice will be done, no matter how long it takes,” Brammerrtz continued. (RELATED: ‘Genocide’ And ‘Eugenics’: Bipartisan Commission Releases Stunning Human Rights Report On China)
More than one million people are believed to have been killed over the course of the genocide, which lasted approximately 100 days, according to the United Nations. The victims were mostly from the Tutsi ethnic minority, though some were moderate individuals of the Hutu ethnic majority who sought to protect the Tutsis from the violence, ABC News reported.