By Jean Gatera
Dutch Public Prosecution has announced the arrest of Joseph Mugenzi this Monday by a special Dutch Police team for International Crimes, prompting jubilation from survivors of the 1994 Genocide Against the Tutsi in Rwanda. Dutch authorities did not immediately disclose from which part of the Netherlands Mugenzi, 71, was apprehended.
“This is such great news!” Rwandans on Twitter jubilated upon the news hitting social media Tuesday morning.
According to sources, while in exile Mugenzi has always presented himself as “a mere bank clerk and a pharmacy owner”. But in reality he and his wife Speciosa Nyirankuriza were close associates of the government of Habyarimana and his MRND, and eyewitnesses testified that they were heavily complicit in the genocide.
Mugenzi was tried and convicted by a Gacaca court in absentia but evaded justice with a false asylum claim in the Netherlands where he fled after a brief stay in Kenya following defeat of the genocidal regime. After close to a decade in exile, however, he was to be hit by legal troubles in the Netherlands where he had sought and got asylum in 2000.
In 2003 the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs warned its immigration services of Mugenzi’s possible role in the Genocide. Then in 2013, Dutch authorities revoked his resident permit based on information that he had lied in his asylum claim.
While in exile Joseph Mugenzi had become an active member of groups espousing the extremist genocidal ideology that were offshoots of the MRND. These were groups such as RDR and later in 2000, around the time he was seeking asylum in Europe, he became president of FDU-Inkingi which was based in The Netherlands.
Meanwhile his son, Rene Mugenzi, masqueraded as a Genocide survivor in UK. Members of the Rwandan diaspora in UK were shocked by such claims that usurped an identity of the very victims of the crimes of his father. A few days ago, however, in a case that legions of Rwandans on social media are celebrating as “a case of poetic justice”, Rene Mugenzi was busted for theft, and sent to prison in the UK.
The younger Mugenzi, who fleeced a growing number of people, including Ukrainian loan sharks in London, was on the run. It has been disclosed that he kept coming up with a number of hoaxes, using Rwanda as a scapegoat, to evade his increasingly angry creditors.
One of his biggest, oldest, hoax stories was that he was a “human rights” activist that “feared for his life because of Rwanda government threats.”
The lie enabled him protection by British authorities that relocated him from London to Norwich. This got him out of the clutches of his creditors.
UK media, however, broke the news four days ago that Rene Mugenzi had been convicted of stealing 220,000 pounds from a Catholic Church based in Norwich. He pleaded guilty and it was disclosed he stole the money to finance his gambling addiction. He was sentenced to 27 months for his theft.
While his father’s legal battles continue, genocide survivors are relieved that they have been caught up by the law.
Kigali is requesting that Joseph Mugenzi be extradited to face justice in Rwanda.