CAPE TOWN, South Africa (AP) – One of Rwanda’s most wanted suspects in the 1994 genocide appeared in a South African court on Friday, holding a Bible and another book bearing the inscription “Jesus of First” on the cover.
Fulgence Kayishema was a police officer with the rank of inspector when he allegedly orchestrated the murder of more than 2,000 people – including children – as they tried to take refuge in a church during the early days of the genocide.
He was arrested in a small wine country town about 30 miles east of Cape Town on Wednesday after successfully evading justice for nearly 30 years. South African authorities gave his age as 61.
Wearing goggles and a hooded blue winter jacket, Kayishema confirmed his identity when questioned by a judge during his brief appearance at Cape Town Magistrates Court. He held up the religious books so that reporters and others in the courtroom could see them before the hearing began and so on for much of the proceedings, his hands clasped in his lap.
He was charged with genocide and crimes against humanity in 2001 by a tribunal investigating the horrors of the Rwandan genocide, where more than 800,000 people were massacred when members of the Hutu ethnic group turned against the Tutsi minority and other Hutus trying to protect them.
Kayishema will be held until another hearing at the same courthouse next Friday, the judge said. He should be extradited to Rwanda and ultimately tried for genocide and crimes against humanity.
The five charges brought against him by South African prosecutors on Friday relate only to the fact that he made false declarations on immigration forms 23 years ago to enter and stay in South Africa.
In January 2000, Kayishema lied to South African authorities by using a false name – Fulgence Dende-Minani 0 and claiming to be a refugee from Burundi, prosecutors alleged in court documents. He was granted asylum in 2004, but it expired two years later according to prosecutors. He apparently still lived in South Africa for 17 years.
It was unclear whether he would stand trial on these charges in South Africa before his extradition to stand trial for genocide.
Kayishema was indicted for the Rwandan killings more than 20 years ago by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, which was set up by the United Nations to investigate the genocide and bring the killers to justice. The International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals continued the work of this tribunal and announced Kayishema’s arrest on Thursday.
He called him “one of the most wanted suspects” in the Rwandan genocide.
According to South African prosecution documents, he had fled Rwanda at least a year before his indictment for the murder of 2,000 Tutsi refugees.
Kayishema was among the leaders of a group that first tried to burn down the church. When that plan failed, he and others used a bulldozer to bulldoze the building, crushing and killing those inside, according to the indictment.
He was also involved in moving the bodies to a mass grave over the next two days, according to the indictment.
He was eventually found in the town of Paarl in the Western Cape Province of South Africa, an old historic town known primarily for its wine making and for having one of the most prestigious rugby schools in South Africa. South.
Kayishema was arrested by the Genocide Tribunal Fugitive Tracing Team and Interpol, with the assistance of authorities in Rwanda, South Africa, Mozambique, Eswatini, Britain, Canada and of the United States, the court said.
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