Rwanda genocide suspect Protais Mpiranya is confirmed dead

KIGALI, Rwanda (AP) - A Rwandan fugitive wanted for allegedly playing a major role in the country's 1994 genocide has been confirmed dead, a prosecutor with a U.N.-backed tribunal said Thursday.

Protais Mpiranya, "the last of the major fugitives'ť indicted by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, died in 2006 in the southern African nation of Zimbabwe, Serge Brammertz, chief prosecutor with the U.N. International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals, said in a statement.

'œFor the victims of his crimes, Mpiranya was a feared and notorious fugitive'ť as leader of the presidential guard during the genocide, he said. 'œConfirming his death provides the solace of knowing that he cannot cause further harm.'ť

With the confirmed death of Mpiranya, there are now only five outstanding fugitives under the tribunal's jurisdiction, the statement said.

The announcement in The Hague followed years of an investigation into the whereabouts of Mpiranya, who eluded arrest by using aliases.

He had been charged with multiple counts of genocide, complicity in genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.

'œNotably, he was charged with responsibility for the murders of senior moderate Rwandan leaders at the start of the genocide, including Prime Minister Agathe Uwilingiyimana'ť and other national leaders, the statement said.

The mass killing of Rwanda's Tutsi population was ignited on April 6, when a plane carrying President Juvénal Habyarimana was shot down and crashed in Kigali, the capital, killing the leader who, like most Rwandans, was an ethnic Hutu.

The Tutsi were blamed for downing the plane, and although they denied it, bands of Hutu extremists began killing them, including children, with support from the army, police and militias.

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