The Hague (AFP) – Former Rwandan defense minister Augustin Bizimana, one of the main suspects sought by the country's 1994 genocide, has died, the UN court said on Friday.
He is believed to have died around August 2000, "based on the conclusive identification of Bizimana's remains in a tomb in Pointe Noire, Republic of the Congo," the Mechanism for International Criminal Courts (MICT) said in a statement. .
Some 800,000 people, mainly members of the Tutsi ethnic group, but also moderate Hutus, were massacred in 100 days of violence committed by Hutu extremists in 1994.
Bizimana had been indicted by the United Nations International Criminal Court for Rwanda in 1998.
The 13 charges included genocide, murder, rape and torture, including the murder of former Prime Minister Agathe Uwilingiyimana and 10 UN peacekeepers in Belgium.
The MICT announcement comes six days after the arrest in Paris of one of the last alleged fugitives from the genocide – Felicien Kabuga.
He is accused of creating the notorious Interahamwe militia, which carried out massacres, and Radio-Television Libre des Mille Collines, which, in its broadcasts, incited people to murder.
Kabuga, 84, who spent a quarter of a century on the run, was indicted by the UN court in 1997 on seven counts, including genocide.
The UN tribunal for Rwanda, based in Arusha, Tanzania, was formally closed in 2015 and its functions were transferred to an institution called MICT.
In its statement released on Friday, the MICT said the "confirmation of death" was the result of an exhaustive prosecution investigation "combining advanced technology with extensive field operations and involved exceptional cooperation with partner authorities in Rwanda, Republic of the Congo, Holland and the United States ".
The prosecutor's office, he said, conducted a DNA analysis at the end of last year on samples previously obtained from human remains of a tomb in Pointe Noire.
"Subsequent investigations and comparative DNA analyzes carried out by the Office in recent months have ruled out that the remains were anyone else's," the document said.
"The Office found more additional evidence on the circumstances of Bizimana's death.
"Consequently, the Office today confirms that Augustin Bizimana passed away. He is believed to have died in August 2000 in Pointe Noire."
– & # 39; Big disappointment & # 39; –
In France, the head of an association of victims of genocide said that the news that Bizimana had died without being brought into the book was a "major disappointment".
"The survivors' greatest wish is for the killers to face justice," said Alain Gauthier, founder of an association called the Collective of Civil Parties for Rwanda (CPCR), which campaigns for the genocide suspect process.
"Only justice can provide them with a little comfort, and when a genocide leader is tried, his honor is restored," he said.
Gauthier also lamented that Bizimana's death deprived survivors of important details of what had happened.
"If he had been taken alive, we could have learned things – it is a pity."
The last major fugitive sought by the MICT is Protais Mpiranya, who commanded the guard of former President Juvenal Habyarimana.
Habyarimana died when his plane was shot down on Kigali on April 6, 1994 – the act that triggered the mass murder.
Five other individuals appointed by the UN tribunal are still on the run.