By Moses Gisa
The anti-terrorism docket in the French Prosecution Department last Saturday, July 25, opened a preliminary investigation into Col. Aloys Ntiwiragabo on suspected charges of crimes against humanity (extermination of Tutsi), conspiracy to commit genocide, and complicity in genocide. “The walls are closing in on the genocidaires in France,” a survivor of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi said excitedly upon learning the news.
Ntiwiragabo has been smoked out of his hiding place in France by a French investigative journalist, Theo Englebert of Mediapart – an investigative digital newspaper. According to Englebert, Ntiwiragabo has been living in France in the city of Orleans in an apartment with his wife Catherine Nikuze and their two children. Nikuze arrived in the country in March 1998 and her asylum application was granted in September 1999. She acquired French citizenship in 2005 as Catherine Nikuze Tibot.
Mediapart said it had been tracking down Ntiwiragabo – who also was a founding member of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda, FDLR – in a period between December 2019 and March 2020. Ntiwiragabo blew his cover in February this year when he ventured out to attend mass with his wife. That’s when investigative journalists took pictures of him, and his identity confirmed. He was revealed as being alive as opposed to earlier false reports of his demise.
Unverified reports had indicated that Ntiwiragabo had died and to date ICTR, Interpol, France, and Rwanda were not actively seeking him, having dropped arrest warrants against him due to the misleading information of his supposed death.
Ntiwiragabo is well known for his role in the Genocide, having been close to the Akazu – the dreaded inner circle of the Habyarimana regime amongst whose most notorious members were people like Habyarimana’s wife Agathe, Col. Theoneste Bagosora, the regime’s feared chief of staff of the defense ministry, and Protais Zigiranyirazo (Habyarimana’s brother in law).
As head of military intelligence (G2) in the Habyarimana regime, Ntiwiragabo drew up lists of those he termed enemies of the country. He was said to keep many names on his “must die” lists of Tutsis living in Rwanda. The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) identified Ntiwiragabo as one of the architects of the Tutsi Genocide early on it’s existence.
Ntiwiragabo appears in the ICTR’s “High Military Officials” trials with 10 other ex-FAR senior officers. They were indicted by the court on charges of conspiracy to commit genocide, planning and execution of genocide, direct and public incitement to exterminate Tutsis, as well as taking part in the massacres of Tutsis from 1990 to 1994.
According to Richard Mugenzi, a former subordinate of Ntiwiragabo, during his reign as head of G2, Ntiwiragabo publicly incited people to hate Tutsi “as enemies of peace and the country.” Mugenzi said Ntiwiragabo would be seen supervising persecutions, torture and killings, and he would be directly involved in the torture of so called “Ibyitso” (accomplices).
Ntiwiragabo headed the military intelligence department which was charged with identifying and making lists of Tutsis and anyone who opposed the regime’s genocide agenda or anyone alleged to be a sympathizer of the RPF who would then be condemned to death.
The prosecution of Ntiwiragabo, analysts say, is further confirmation that French President Emmanuel Macron “means business when he says genocide perpetrators in France will face justice.” Ntiwiragabo is the second-high profile genocide suspect in France to face the law after the arrest of Felicien Kabuga, known as one of the biggest fish of the culprits of the Genocide, in Paris this May, 17.