The death of the last major fugitive wanted for his role in the 1994 Rwandan genocide was a “loss of justice,” according to the leading support group for genocide survivors.
The United Nations on Thursday announced that Protais Mpiranya, who commanded a feared unit accused of targeted assassinations during the 100-day massacre in Rwanda, had died in 2006.
“The confirmation of Protais Mpiranya’s death is a loss to justice because he did not appear before courts to be tried for the crimes he committed,” Jean Damascene Kalinda, a legal representative for the Ibuka survivors’ association, told AFP.
Mpiranya, who commanded the presidential guard, became the top priority for investigators in May 2020 following the arrest of alleged genocide financier Felicien Kabuga near Paris.
He was charged with war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity and prosecutors spent more than two decades looking for him following his indictment by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda in 2000.
But in fact he had died of tuberculosis nearly 16 years ago.
Mpiranya was allegedly among those who ordered the murder of then prime minister Agathe Uwilingiyimana, 10 Belgian soldiers protecting her, and several other leading politicians and their families on April 7, 1994, in the early hours of the genocide.
After an indictment was issued against him, Mpiranya fled to Zimbabwe in late 2002, where he lived until his death in 2006, UN prosecutors said.
His death did not uphold the promise “that no one is above the law,” said Kalinda, who urged countries to do more to arrest genocide suspects.
“Where he lived from 1994 to 2006 when he died, those countries had the responsibility to arrest him and present him to justice, but it was not done,” he said.
Mpiranya, who was believed to be around 46 at the time of his death, was using the alias of Ndume Sambao, according to prosecutors.
His family and associates had gone to great lengths to hide his death, including preparing a tombstone that misidentified him, to ensure that few would know his true fate.
Approximately 800,000 people, largely Tutsis and moderate Hutus, were killed in the genocide, which lasted about 100 days and was mostly carried out by Hutu troops.