15 OCTOBER 2010


Finally, after 16 years at large, Rwanda massacre suspect Callixte Mbarushimana will face an indictment. He overstayed his protected hospitality in France when he founded a group with a farcical name of Forces Democratiques pour la Liberations du Rwanda at a time when French President Nicolas Sarkozy is trying to turn a new page in Africa, and particularly with Kigali. The International Court of Justice announced that Callixte was arrested on 10 October in Paris by the French authorities following a sealed ICC arrest warrant.

It has been 16 years since Callixte Mbarushimana was accused by his former U.N. colleagues in Rwanda of assisting in the massacres. Yet his case remained pending. After being arrested on an Interpol request, he remained "under investigation" in France. The level of assistance he received from certain U.N. quarters -- particularly in moving to other Peacekeeping missions like Timor Leste and Kosovo indicated that some highly-placed officials at U.N. Headquarters (at the time, or perhaps still around for a few more months) lent their protective influence. The question was not only who but why? Not only what were his connections, but what does he KNOW?

While unforum.com raised the question regularly since 2002, it was only in November 2004 that mainstream media caught up with an item reported by unforum.com two years previously about a massacre suspect in Rwanda:

But it was too late, too vague. A television network that expressed initial interest ended up reproducing the spinned version -- mainly shaming "the U.N." in general, while evading the real hard question. An added outrage was related to a "compensation" of about $35,000 to Callixte and dropping the case against him. That led many to accuse U.N. bodies concerned of "mismanaging evidence" and "betraying the genocide victims" by ruling in the suspect's favor without a serious trial. As anyone within the system knows, any personnel case could be argued forcibly well in any internal Board. The quality of those representing the claimant or the personnel office; procedures overlooked or applied; available or unavailable information -- so many elements could play into the hands of any administrative argument. In fact, some staff lawyers may have felt that a case was won for an improperly fired staff!

The real question is not why he was paid -- which is extremely frustrating to many -- but WHO HELPED HIM AFTER THE MASSACRES GET SUPERVISORY JOBS IN ANGOLA AND KOSOVO?

It is by now public knowledge that sixteen years ago, during 1994 Rwanda massacres in Kigali, Callixte Mbarushimana was widely reputed to have actively participated in mass killing of Tutsi. As the U.N. international staff were withdrawn, he took control of the U.N. compound. As reported by several sources -- and later by the Sunday Times of London -- he was allegedly seen collaborating with Hutu death squads. Among his alleged victims was the UNDP Administrative officer in Kigali Ms. Florence Ngirumpatse who was hacked to death with school girls she was sheltering. Others suspected him of fingering out U.N. Senegalese Captain Mbaye who courageously tried to save women and children by smuggling them out in his jeep. A Muslim, Captain Mbaye secretly worked with Christian Church priests and nuns to hide people until he found a way of sneaking them out of harm's way.

"Despite widespread accusations, no action was taken by U.N. peacekeeping, UNDP, or any other U.N. body to investigate. He remained on the U.N. payroll in Rwanda for about seven years. When the Sunday Times picked up his story at the time, it was told that he was no more on the U.N. payroll. That was not true. In fact Callixte Mbarushimana was in effect promoted (!!) to assignments in Angola, then Kosovo. It is not common for local U.N. staff to move from their country of recruitment to another mission. In exceptional cases and based on outstanding performance -- or passing a General Service to Professional exam -- a local staffer could be moved elsewhere or granted an international posting. But given the man's notorious reputation, he must have received serious help from someone influential enough at Headquarters in New York. He could not have applied or been recruited locally in another country; nor would he have any special local qualifications -- Angolans speak Portuguese, Kosovars speak Albanian or Serbo Croat. The Rwandan at best is Francophone.

It is interesting to note in report AT/DEC/1192 dated 30 September 2004, Callixte worked with UNDP-Luanda as "a Local Area Network Manager" (!) from December 1996 to December 1999 -- three years, and that was two years AFTER the massacres. On 10 November 2000, he was recruited for the U.N. Interim Administration (UNMIK) in Kosovo as an "Electronic Data Processing (EDP) Architect" in Gilan region at the IFLD3 -- a level on a limited contract, like most mission appointments -- through 30 April 2001. His contract was not extended -- he had been arrested on an international warrant on 11 April.

It it also interesting to note that in 1999, in an undated "Statement of Concern," Gregory Alex, Human Policy Advisor, Rwanda, formerly Chief, Emergency Unit UNDP Rwanda, made "very serious accusations" referring to Callixte's role in the genocide and in the elimination and murder of U.N. staff members and their families. He particularly referred to the death of Ms. Florence Ngirumpatse. Emboldened, while now serving UNDP in Angola, Callixte wrote directly to the Administrator of UNDP in a letter dated 26 November 1999, strongly refuting the charges. He followed it -- with a letter straight to the Secretary General (former Peacekeeping Chief during Rwanda massacres) on 22 February 2000. By November of that year, he was found that other job ENTAILING DIPLOMATIC IMMUNITY in Kosovo. But then, with the case gradually uncovered, the Representative of Rwanda in New York delivered a warrant for his arrest to the Under-Secretary General for Legal Affairs who on 10 April informed UNMIK's Legal Advisor, waiving the staff member's immunity from legal process and from arrest or detention. Then the man obtained the backing of Lis Sejr, Judge of the District Court of Gjilan, where he was stationed. On 12 April, she ruled that the provisional detention should be for "the shortest possible period," she found "no evidence of the alleged crime." Then on 6 June she ruled -- refusing the extradition. Five days later a panel -- in the same district of Gjilan -- sustained the local judge and on 19 June the Supreme Court of Kosovo refused the extradition request, ordering the man's release. That is some power for a Rwandan who had just arrived in a totally unfamiliar land only months earlier. It is amazing that he could muster such local judicial support so swiftly at a level to which most Kosovars could hardly aspire. Did he receive highly placed, informed and timely help? From whom? Kosovo is totally under a U.N. mandate, ruled by expediently designated foreign politicians. Six U.N. Representatives were changed during as many years. What role did the U.N. Representative office in Pristina play in such an obviously contentious case? With whom in New York was he in touch, or vice-versa? Besides proper appropriate contact between legal colleagues, who else from Headquarters was involved?

Appointments in the field are fairly well supervised and closely handled. Interested staff and retiring or transferred diplomats know whom to contact. Officers directly in charge have acquired wide influence by accommodating highly placed requests; some of them were gratefully rewarded by promotions and occasional higher level mission assignments. Who among them was involved in this particular case? On whose request?

The mystery is further compounded by what the head of the international inquiry, Tony Greig of New Zealand says. After collecting at least 24 statements from survivors, he helped draft an indictment based on his submitted evidence. But for some reason the Chief U.N. Prosecutor delayed signing it. Mbarushimana had been detained as the Rwanda war Tribunal was requested to investigate. But with no official signature by the Chief Prosecutor, the evidenced indictment would not stand for too long, particularly that the accused man disappeared then reappeared, claiming political asylum in France. He was then enabled to raise a case with the Joint Appeals Board and the Administration Tribunal on the grounds of wrongful dismissal.

The irony is that he was "rewarded" on the tenth anniversary of the infamous Rwanda massacres while the family of the only U.N. hero in this whole shameful episode, the murdered Senegalese Captain Mbaye, is yet to receive an adequate reward.

While awaiting the Court's proceedings, a main U.N.-related question remains unanswered and unexplored. Who helped him after 1994? Who found him even better jobs in the U.N. Peacekeeping Mission, offering him immunity, even supervisory jobs and promotions?

We have raised these questions since the beginning. (Search on our home page for at least nine references.)