The search for one of the world’s most famous killers, Protais Mpiranya, has been going on for twenty years. The body of the former commander of the Rwandan Presidential Guard, accused of committing genocide, was found in Zimbabwe, in a cemetery under an assumed name.
Lawrence Turksource† Watchman
The man has been searching for two decades. But now the search is over thanks to a clue found in a seized computer. It had a hand-drawn design of a tombstone for Lumberania. His body was exhumed last month at the request of UN researchers, and the man’s identity was confirmed on Tuesday by DNA analysis.
The man, accused of participating in the massacre of thousands of Rwandans and of complicity in the killing of many more, died in October 2006 of a heart attack caused by tuberculosis. Mpiranya turned 50 years old. But like most of his life, his death also remained a mystery. Mpiranya lived under a false identity in Harare, the capital of Zimbabwe, for four years, although the government continued to deny his presence in the country. The British newspaper reported that the investigation now shows that he had several contacts with Zimbabwean officials from the regime of President Roger Mugabe during his stay in Zimbabwe. Watchman†
As a fugitive, Mpiranya was able to evade the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda – established in 1994 to bring to justice the perpetrators of genocide responsible for the deaths of up to 800,000 people. He was charged with genocide and crimes against humanity.
In May 2020, Mpiranya was the last major fugitive of the 93 suspects. It also topped the list as the world’s most wanted war crime suspect. He is said to have passed on a list of prominent Tutsis and their relatives so that they could be killed. He armed and trained the Hutu militia Interahamwe responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people.
The bloodshed began when Rwandan President Juvenal Habyarimana’s plane was shot down and Mpiranya of his men set up a roadblock where the Tutsis were then massacred. Soldiers from the Presidential Guard, who are believed to be led by Mpiranya, also killed Prime Minister Agati Olingyimana, a moderate Hutu, and mutilated her body. The ten Belgian soldiers, armed with light weapons, who had been sent to protect her with machetes, were killed.
After the fall of the Hutu regime in July 1994, Mpiranya fled across Africa. He spent four years in Cameroon, until it was no longer safe. He continued his way to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where he fought in the Second Congo War and then fled to Zimbabwe on a military plane from Zimbabwe.