Zimbabwe denied on Sunday that it harboured “most wanted” Rwandan genocide-accused fugitive Protais Mpiranya, after the United Nations said he died in the country in 2006.

Wanted for his role in the 1994 genocide, Mpiranya, presidential guard commander at the time of the massacres, died in Zimbabwe where he fled years earlier, following pulmonary tuberculosis, UN prosecutors said.

He was buried in a cemetery near Harare under an alias, with his family and associates carefully hiding his death.

“The Government of Zimbabwe wishes to clarify some recent media reports that are circulating insinuating that the Government was harbouring the most wanted Rwandese fugitive, Protais Mpiranya,” the government said in a statement.

“Contrary to a smear campaign peddled by both international mainstream media and social media seeking to portray Zimbabwe as aiding, abetting and hiding a fugitive, the government of Zimbabwe actually assisted the UN Prosecutor in the identification of Mpiranya.”

It added that officials had cooperated with investigators seeking Mpiranya, setting up a joint working group, helping to finance the research, sharing investigative reports as well as summaries of interviews with suspects.

“It was the Government of Zimbabwe that authorised and participated in the exhumation of Mpiranya’s remains when it was suspected that he was the one buried under a false name, Ndume Sambao,” the statement added.

The government said that Zimbabwe would never harbour criminals and welcomes the result of DNA samples taken from the fugitive which “closes a sad chapter in the history of Rwanda and allows the country to move on”.

Mpiranya was indicted in 2000 by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) on eight counts of genocide, complicity in genocide, murder, extermination, rape, persecution, other inhuman acts constituting crimes against humanity, and murder.

He was accused of killing moderate Hutu prime minister Agathe Uwilingiyimana, 10 Belgian peacekeepers charged with protecting her and several prominent politicians, as well as their families and servants.


© Agence France-Presse