South African prosecutors Friday significantly increased the number of charges brought against Rwandan ex-police officer Fulgence Kayishema, who is wanted internationally for suspected participation in Rwanda’s 1994 genocide.
According to a prosecutor, Kayishema, who was on the run for two decades was arrested May 24 under a false name on a grape farm in South Africa when refugees working there gave him up.
Prosecutors spokesman Eric Ntabazalila said outside a Cape Town Court that he now faces 54 separate charges in South Africa relating to fraud and immigration offences, up from five previously.
Kayishema had been a fugitive from justice since 2001 when the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) indicted him for genocide for allegedly ordering the massacre of 2,000 people hiding in the Nyange Catholic Church.
He denied any involvement during a court hearing on May 26, though said he was “sorry” for the 1994 killings.
South Africa’s National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) alleges that Kayishema used a false identity to apply for asylum and refugee status in South Africa. Kayishema has not responded in court to the South African charges.
The case was adjourned to June 20 to allow Kayishema’s defence team to consult, at which point he could apply for bail.
Some of the local charges could see Kayishema imprisoned for up to 15 years, said Ntabazalila.
Kayishema is also expected to face extradition to Rwanda to be tried over the ICTR genocide indictment, but those proceedings have yet to begin, Ntabazalila said.
An estimated 800,000 ethnic Tutsis and Hutu moderates were killed during Rwanda’s genocide, orchestrated by an extremist Hutu regime and meticulously executed by local officials and ordinary citizens in the rigidly hierarchical society.
Kayishema’s arrest left only three fugitives indicted by the international tribunal whose whereabouts remain unknown.