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Rights Group says Major Rwandan Genocide Suspect Living in US

A new report says a man responsible for helping turn the Gisozi area of Rwanda into a mass grave during the 1994 genocide has been tracked to the US Midwestern state of Ohio.

The group African Rights says Oswald Rurangwa has already been sentenced in absentia to 30 years in prison by a local Gacaca court in Rwanda. However, it says he fled to the United States in and changed his name to Oswald Rukemuye. Rakiya Omaar is director of African Rights. From Kigali, she spoke to VOA English to Africa Service reporter Joe De Capua about the genocide suspect.

“Oswald Rurangwa was the director of a primary school in Kigali. But at the same time he was head of the ruling party for that area called Gisozi. Most important of all, he was also the head of the interahamwe militia in that same sector during the genocide of 1994,” she says.

Omaar says after the genocide, Rurangwa fled Rwanda for the eastern DRC and eventually made it to the United States. “He first went to the refugee camps in the former Zaire with many other perpetrators of the genocide. And then he managed to get to the United States in 1996. And I think went almost immediately to live in Ohio. But in any case he has been living in Ohio for many years now,” she says.

The head of African Rights says it was only recently that his whereabouts in Dayton, Ohio, became known, leading to the quick publication of the report. Omaar says, “The charges against him include creating and arming the interahamwe militia, encouraging them to exterminate the Tutsis of Gisozi, the area where he was…the local government official in charge.”

He’s accused of setting up many roadblocks where Tutsi were detained and handed over to the militia “to be massacred. Of taking part in killings himself in different parts of Kigali.” These include massacres of those seeking shelter at Saint Famille Parish and St. Paul’s Center in the capital.

Omaar says, “He was without any doubt the single most important perpetrator of the genocide in the Gisozi sector. And many of the people who are buried on the grounds of the National Genocide Memorial Center in Gisozi are victims of Oswald Rurangwa.”

A local Gacaca court has sentenced him in absentia to 30 years in prison. His case has not been considered by the International Criminal Tribunal on Rwanda, which has handled only a relatively small number of cases of genocide suspects.

“There are very many genocide suspects living in the United States and particularly in Dayton, Ohio, which is where Oswald Rurangwa is living,” Omaar says. She adds that at this time it’s not clear what his legal status in the United States, although he apparently is not a US citizen.