Genocide of the Tutsi: Paul Kagame accuses a former UN employee who took refuge in France of being behind the assassination of his “sister”

A man who has taken refuge in France since 2002, targeted by international justice without ever having been convicted, was accused by Paul Kagame on Sunday April 7 in Kigali of having “handed over his cousin to the killers”

Genocide of the Tutsi: Paul Kagame accuses a former UN employee who took refuge in France of being behind the assassination of his “sister”

A man who has taken refuge in France since 2002, targeted by international justice without ever having been convicted, was accused by Paul Kagame on Sunday April 7 in Kigali of having “handed over his cousin to the killers”. “He then continued his career at the United Nations for many years, even after the appearance of evidence implicating him,” confided the Rwandan president during this speech given as part of the commemorations in tribute to the victims of the Tutsi genocide, thirty years later. He is still a free man, now living in France. »

The man thus implicitly designated by the Rwandan president is called Callixte Mbarushimana. He was IT manager for the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in Rwanda during the genocide. In the spring of 1994, he worked with Florence Ngirumpatse, the one whom the Rwandan president considers “like his sister”.

Aged 59, Callixte Mbarushimana has a long legal career behind him. After being investigated by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) and the International Criminal Court (ICC), he is now being prosecuted in France for his role in the genocide following a complaint filed in 2008 by the Collective of civil parties for Rwanda. “He is one of the hundred or so suspected genocidal refugees currently on our territory,” assures Alain Gauthier, president of this NGO.

In a speech during which he castigated the role of the international community "which has let us all down, whether through contempt or cowardice", Paul Kagame explained that from the start of the killings, Florence Ngirumpatse had found herself isolated at home with a dozen people. “On the morning of May 16, after a month of torture, they were all killed, except for a niece who managed to escape thanks to a neighbor,” said Paul Kagame. It later emerged that a Rwandan working at UNDP had handed over his Tutsi colleagues to the killers. »

“Disappeared after the genocide”

“When I arrived in Rwanda in May 1994, I quickly heard about this man,” remembers Briton Charles Petrie, former civil servant at the United Nations and deputy coordinator of the organization in spring 1994. Florence Ngirumpatse, head of personnel , was very appreciated. One of my best friends and colleagues, Gromo Alex [director of the emergencies department at UNDP], explained to me that well before the genocide, she was already suspicious of Callixte Mbarushimana, whom she suspected of being linked to the Interahamwe militia. She had warned her superiors. At the start of the genocide, Callixte Mbarushimana insisted on knowing his address. The day before the operation which was to be launched in total secrecy in order to save her, she was assassinated. A witness said he saw Callixte in a bar, celebrating the death of Florence and her family. »

In his book The Triumph of Evil: Genocide in Rwanda and the Fight for Justice (Unbound, 2021), recently translated into French (La Banalisation du mal et la quest d'une justice, Editions du Panthéon, 312 pages, 23.90 euros ), Charles Petrie shows the failures of the UN in Rwanda and the murky role played by Callixte Mbarushimana. The former UNDP computer scientist would have “disappeared after the genocide before reappearing in Kenya, Angola and Kosovo, still within the UN organization,” says Charles Petrie. In 2001, after an international arrest warrant issued by Rwanda, he was arrested in Kosovo. But as the death penalty is still in force in Kigali, he is not extradited.

The ICTR, which judges those mainly responsible for the genocide, took an interest in his case in 2002. Due to a lack of convincing evidence, he was not prosecuted. The computer scientist then took refuge in France where he obtained political refugee status in 2003. In February 2008, the Collective of Civil Parties for Rwanda filed a complaint and an investigation was opened.

His legal troubles worsened at the end of the 2000s. Three years after joining the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), in 2007 Callixte Mbarushimana became executive secretary of this movement made up of former genocidaires based in the Democratic Republic of Congo . While he worked in the Paris region in a computer maintenance company, he was accused of writing FDLR press releases. He was arrested in 2010 following a warrant issued this time by the ICC.

According to the prosecution, he played a “decisive role” in planning attacks committed by the armed group against civilian populations in South and North Kivu. But a year after his extradition to The Hague, the ICC pre-trial chamber rejected the charges against him. Callixte Mbarushimana then returns to Paris. Upon his arrival at the airport on December 23, 2011, he was placed under judicial supervision as part of the complaint filed by the Collective of Civil Parties for Rwanda. The investigation of the former UNDP computer scientist, whose lawyer could not be reached by Le Monde, has been completed since 2023. The prosecution's requisitions are expected in the coming months.