IBUKA reacts to arrest of former Rwandan Justice Minister accused of role in Genocide against the Tutsi

By Esther Muhozi
On 3 April 2024 at 09:20

The Umbrella Organization of survivors of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi has announced that it had been waiting for the arrest of Mbonampeka Stanislas, a former Minister of Justice, who was recently apprehended in Belgium.

News of the arrest of 82-year-old Mbonampeka Stanislas was reported by Echo d’Afrique, which disclosed that he was arrested on March 28, 2024, and is now detained in a prison located in Haren, north of Brussels in Belgium.

Mbonampeka resided in Ndera, where he allegedly committed his crimes by leading the Interahamwe militias that killed Tutsis in a seminary, the CARAES hospital, and the parish.

Stanislas Mbonampeka hails from the former Ruhengeri Prefecture. He joined the military, then left to study at the University of Butare.

He is a son-in-law of Mbonyumutwa as he married his daughter Marie Claire Mukamugema.

He also served as the Minister of Justice before the Genocide against the Tutsi.

Mbonampeka was a member of the PL party but later aligned with a rebel faction known as PL Power, which collaborated with the MRND and CDR parties, both of which played roles in the Genocide against the Tutsi.

Dr. Philbert Gakwenzire, President of IBUKA, an organization advocating for the survivors of the Genocide against the Tutsi, expressed satisfaction with the arrest of Mbonampeka Stanislas.

He noted that they had been anticipating his arrest and prosecution for his actions, despite him having evaded justice for 30 years.

Dr. Gakwenzire stated, “It’s something we have been waiting for a long time, as the arrest warrants were issued long ago, and Belgian investigators had visited Rwanda some time ago. We were waiting to see when it would happen because we know there could be excuses made about their age, claiming they are too old, which has become like a song to them.”

Dr. Gakwenzire mentioned that Mbonampeka played a role in planning and overseeing the Genocide in the area that was formerly Rubungo commune, especially around the parish, the seminary, and nearby areas.

He emphasized their readiness to receive justice after many years of the suspect being in hideouts.

Dr. Gakwenzire revealed that Mbonampeka had been known to be in Belgium for some time despite using various tactics to evade detection.

He often pretended to be in France, where he had a known address, but did not stay there long, instead residing in Belgium in an undisclosed manner to mislead authorities.

Dr. Gakwenzire noted that it had been over five years since they had known about his whereabouts in Belgium.

“It had been a while since we knew exactly where he lived, house by house. It has been about five years or slightly more, which is why the documents could be prepared and the process to arrest him initiated.”

He expressed concerns about Mbonampeka’s age being used as a defense, similar to what happened with Félicien Kabuga, but trusted in the judiciary’s capability.

“The concerns are there, but we trust in the judicial system’s capability, as it is in their hands now. Those who committed Genocide, wherever they are, must know that even if they are old, the crime does not age, and they will be pursued at any time. Old age should not be an excuse, we will provide information and trust that justice will be served.”

The Belgian prosecution recently announced that it has 49 cases yet to be tried, even 30 years after the Genocide was halted.

Dr. Gakwenzire urged the Belgian justice system to exert more effort in arresting those who are still at large to be held accountable for their actions.

He also called on the survivors of the Genocide against the Tutsi to maintain courage and resilience during this 30th commemoration of the Genocide against the Tutsi that Rwanda is about to enter.

Stanislas Mbonampeka, who previously served as the Minister of Justice, has been arrested and is facing charges related to genocide.