A Rwandan genocide victims' association has urged French authorities to arrest former military official Aloys Ntiwiragabo, accused of playing a key role in the 1994 genocide. Anti-terrorism prosecutors on Saturday decided to open a preliminary investigation after journalists tracked the 72-year-old down in the French city of Orléans.
Theo Englebert, author of the story published on the Mediapart website on Saturday, explained that former Rwandan military official Aloys Ntiwiragabo was found living in the suburbs of Orléans, a city 110 kilometres south of Paris.
Englebert told Rwanda's The New Times newspaper that Ntiwiragabo was traced through his wife, Catherine Nikuze, who was granted asylum in France in 1999 and later took the name Tibot, which appears on the intercom of Ntiwiragabo's apartment.
Head of military intelligence
Major-General Aloys Ntiwiragabo was Rwanda's head of military intelligence from June 1993 to July 1994 and a member of the group known as 'Akazu' which orchestrated the 1994 genocide.
In a list of accusations in 1998, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) cited Ntiwiragabo as one of a group of eleven people who from "the end of 1990 until July 1994...made plans to exterminate Tutsis and eliminate members of the opposition in order to stay in power".
Mediapart suggests that the opening of an official inquiry into Ntiwiragabo's role in the genocide might lead to further questioning from French courts.
In a press release published on Friday, genocide victims support group Ibuka- France urged authorities in France to arrest Ntiwiragabo in what they describe is a long overdue case.
"Why was Ntiwiragabo able to get visas for France from the consulates in Niamey and Khartoum in 2001 when he was wanted by the ICTR at the time?" they ask.
Following the Rwandan genocide in which at least 800,000 people were killed in the space of three months, Ntiwiragabo fled to Zaire (now DR Congo) then to Kenya. He reportedly took refuge in South Sudan, before coming to France.
According to Mediapart, Ntiwiragabo founded the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda, a militia group still active across central Africa.
A book of secrets
In July 2019, Ntiwiragabo published a book (in French) recounting the events of the turbulent 1990s, based on his eye witness accounts and military documents.
Dozens of people connected to the genocide are believed to be living in France, with the knowledge of the authorities, according to the Collectif des Parties Civiles pour le Rwanda (CPCR), a rights group which has worked to bring genocide suspects to court for nearly two decades.
One of those suspects, the man accused of financing the genocide, is Félicien Kabuga, who was arrested in France in May.
The appeals court ruled in June that Kabuga could face the international court, but the case has now been transferred to the final appeals court in France, with a hearing set for 2 September.
Ibuka-France says they hope French President Emmanuel Macron will keep his word when it comes to taking legal steps against those suspected of genocide.
In his address during the ceremony marking Rwandan national day on 4 July, Macron reassured his counterpart Paul Kagamé, that "all Rwandan genocide suspects would be brought to justice".