Believed to be hiding and living a mysteriously silent life in Belgium, Rwanda’s former speaker of Parliament Alfred Mukezamfura has eluded many and not seen in public for the past decade.
In September 2009, the Gacaca Court of Nyakabanda sector in Kigali city sentenced Mukezamfura to life in prison after he was found guilty of serious genocide offences especially authoring articles in state owned newspaper Imvaho mobilizing for attacks against Tutsi during the 1994 genocide against Tutsi.
For many years after the Genocide which claimed a million lives, Mukezamfura remained tight lipped about his role in the genocide against Tutsi.
But later two articles were discovered ‘Intwari yaratabarutse [the hero passed away] and Kigali; Ni nde uzaribara [Who will tell the story of Kigali?]- These articles carried the byline of Mukezamfura and was at the time the Editor of Imvaho.
After 1994, Mukezamfura dropped journalism and pursued a political career which led him to head the Chamber of Deputies in 2003.
During the Gacaca trial, the mood in the country was a massive call for his resignation but he remained composed. He was hatching an escape plan. He requested for permission to seek treatment outside the country.
Sources say after successfully flying out of the country and filing for asylum in Belgium, he later wrote a resignation letter and sent it back to Rwanda by DHL.
As the Gacaca proceedings had intensified, the United States in 2018 sent in a new envoy to Kigali W. Stuart Symington. He sent a cable back to Washington describing the events in Rwanda.
“Over the past several months, as the National Gacaca Service closes out its million-plus caseload, politically sensitive cases are being heard,” the cable reads in part.
“Senior officials in Parliament, in the executive branch and in the military are finally facing their accusers. Conviction, acquittal, and fleeing judgment are the three possible results, with prominent examples of each in recent days,” Symington added.
The long arm of the law was catching many leading to several fleeing the country in advance of judgment, including Senator Stanley Safari, President of the Solidarity and Progress Party (PSP).
Some were duly convicted and sentenced to long prison terms including two former members of the Chamber of Deputies, Beatrice Nirere and Elizee Bisengimana.
“Mukezamfura ostensibly left Rwanda for medical treatment at the time his gacaca case was called, and by most accounts he will not return any time soon,” Symington relayed back to Washington.
After finding safe landing in Belgium, Mukezamfura being tried by the gacaca court of the Nyakabanda sector, in Nyarugenge district of Kigali.
During the hearing in Mukezamfura case, court heard testimony from the former Biryogo sector leader, Amri Karekezi and Valerie Bemeriki who worked for the infamous Radio Television Libre de Mille Collines (RTLM).
Karekezi and Bemeriki are serving life senteces for their role in the 1994 genocide against Tutsi.
Karekezi told court then that he was in the meetings with Mukezamfura organizing the Genocide, “He frequently attended the meetings not as a journalist but as a participant who was active.”
In her submission to court, Bemeriki recounted how she went to Gitarama together with Mukezamfura, Jean Baptiste Bamwanga and Callixte Kalimanzira to encourage the masses to participate in the genocide.
“We told people that they have to fight and protect the 1959 revolution, we were accompanied by Interahamwe who immediately started killing to prove to us that they had got the message loud and clear,” Bemeriki said.
For all these ten years, Mukezamfura has remained elusive and Rwandan diaspora in Belgium also says the former Speaker of Parliament is very hard to see in public.
Although Belgium has been trying some suspects for their role in the 1994 Genocide against Tutsi in Rwanda, the European country hosts dozens of fugitive Rwandans wanted for their role in the genocide.