Zim backs hunt for genocide fugitives

16 May, 2022 - 00:05 0 Views
Zim backs hunt for genocide fugitives Ambassador Fredrick Shava

The Herald

Ivan Zhakata Herald Correspondent

Zimbabwe is fully backing United Nations’ hunt for fugitives wanted for trial for the 1994 Rwanda genocide and is co-operating bilaterally with the country in processing its extradition requests.

Speaking on the discovery last week after DNA tests that a body buried in Zimbabwe in 2006 was wanted Rwandan fugitive Protais Mpiranya, whose remains were found in Zimbabwe where he was hiding for four years before his death and was buried under the alias Ndume Sambao, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Ambassador Fredrick Shava said the Government met all its obligations under the international law and worked hand-in-glove with the UN to track down and open the grave after investigators received a tip-off from an image on a confiscated computer.

Ambassador Shava said Zimbabwe fully cooperated with the UN in its investigations.

“From day one, Zimbabwe cooperated fully with the investigation team. Actually, the office of the UN Prosecutor responsible for tracking Rwandan fugitives and the Zimbabwean authorities established a joint task force to coordinate investigative activities and strengthen cooperation.

“The Zimbabwean authorities have consistently cooperated and adhered to the country’s international legal obligations.

“Zimbabwe actually set up an inter-departmental taskforce, with the mandate to investigate, chaired by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade to facilitate the investigation on the whereabouts of Mpiranya,” he said.

Rejecting inaccurate social media reports that Zimbabwe abetted the Ambassador Shava said the Government worked with representatives of the office of the UN prosecutor and provided resources to fund the investigations of the activities of the taskforce.

He said they comprehensively investigated leads on fugitive Mpiranya and followed-up on new leads, facilitated a visit to Zimbabwe by the UN prosecutor and his meetings with Vice Presidents of Zimbabwe.

Ambassador Shava said Government shared the stage-by-stage investigation reports, summaries of interviews with suspects and documentary evidence from various sources, produced and submitted taskforce reports to the office of the UN prosecutor.

It was the Government 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 Government actually secured the grave, issued certificates to authorise the extraction of DNA samples and for them to be taken outside the country to the Netherlands Forensic Institute for analysis,” ambassador Shava said.

“The taskforce, including Government pathologists and forensic experts participated during the whole process. It was not possible for the UN prosecutor’s office to come, exhume and take the samples of a deceased person buried in Zimbabwe without government authority.

“We were not only cooperating and assisting the UN Mechanism but we are also assisting Rwanda bilaterally and requests for extradition of some fugitives allegedly believed to be in Zimbabwe are at various stages of processing.

“Contrary to 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.”

Ambassador Shava said Zimbabwe was always there to assist throughout the whole process and under the Second Republic’s engagement and re-engagement policy Government agreed to cooperate with the stakeholders.

As the Government, they fulfilled their international obligations under the UN Charter by giving the UN team unlimited access to the grave and protected it.

“Zimbabwe is a member of the UN system that always respects and abides by the international law,” Ambassador Shava said.

“As a law-abiding nation, Zimbabwe will never harbour criminals and welcomes the findings from the DNA samples extracted from the fugitive. This outcome closes a sad chapter in the history of Rwanda and allows the country to move on.”

The remains of Mpiranya were exhumed at Granville Cemetery in Harare following a request by the UN investigators to the Government of Zimbabwe to take samples for DNA analysis.

Mpiranya’s remains were exhumed last month and his identity was then confirmed by DNA analysis on Tuesday.

According to reports, the UN investigators had tracked down and identified Mpiranya’s grave with the help of a critical lead found on a confiscated computer, the hand-drawn design of Mpiranya’s tombstone.

Mpiranya died in Harare in October 2006 of a heart attack brought on by tuberculosis, at the age of 50 and was reported to be living in Zimbabwe for four years before his demise.

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