U.S. to join manhunt of Rwandan genocide suspects

KIGALI, July 24 (Xinhua) -- The United States reaffirmed on Thursday its commitment to bringing to justice nine chief suspects in the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, who are indicted by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR).

"Twenty years have passed but we want to make it clear, we will search the globe to bring these remaining fugitives to justice for the sake of the victims, and the sake of the survivors. There is no expiration date on justice for these crimes," said Ambassador-at-Large Stephen J. Rapp of the U.S. Department of State's Office of Global Criminal Justice at Kigali Genocide Memorial Center.

During an approximate 100-day period from April 7 to mid-July 1994, an estimated 1 million Rwandans, mostly the Tutsi minority, were killed after the killing of Hutu president Juvenal Habyarimana. The genocide was believed to be plotted by members of the Akazu, a powerful extremist Hutu group.

The suspects still at large are Felicien Kabuga, a businessman closely connected to the Akazu; Protais Mpiranya, the former commandant of the presidential guards, and the former defense minister Augustin Bizimana. The three people remain top on the ICTR's most wanted list.

Other suspects include Ladislas Ntaganzwa, Fulgence Kayishema, Pheneas Munyarugarama, Aloys Ndimbati, Charles Rwandikayo and CHarles Sikibwabo.

"As long as those responsible for crimes of this magnitude continue to enjoy impunity, those on the side of justice must strive to hold them accountable," said Rapp. "Those who harbor fugitives obstruct justice, and only delay the inevitable. Others will eventually come forward and provide crucial information that will lead to arrest and to accountability."

The U.S. Department of State's Office of Global Criminal Justice has joined the government of Rwanda, the (ICTR) and Interpol through the International Fugitive Initiative, the ambassador added.

Hassan Jallow, the chief prosecutor of the ICTR and Mechanism for the International Criminal Tribunal (MICT), said the international war crimes program has provided incentives to people to provide information leading to the arrest of fugitives.

"With the eminent closure of ICTR, the MICT has taken over the responsibility of tracking and arresting the remaining fugitives. All those who are at large should know that the mechanism is committed to bringing them on trial as a matter of priority," he said.

Stefano Carvelli, head of Interpol's Fugitive Investigative Support (FIS), commended the initiative to re-engage the public in the search for the remaining perpetrators.