Searching for more than twenty years for one of the most wanted fugitives in the world

For more than twenty years, Rwandan authorities have been trying to find one of the main culprits The 1994 genocide in the country, Protais Mpiranya. Embranya was the commander-in-chief of the Presidential Guard: he fled at the end of the Civil War, and there is no news of him. The search ended a few weeks ago when his grave was found in Harare, Zimbabwe, under the false name of Sambao Endume.

After the grave was discovered, the identity of the buried person was verified and it was discovered that he had Embrania and that he had contracted tuberculosis in 2006 and died. Embrania was charged with genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity and one of the world’s most wanted fugitives.

The cause of the genocide was the April 6, 1994 shooting down of a plane carrying Rwandan President Juvenal Hapiermana and Burundi President Cyprian Entriamira. The Hutus, the “moderate” Hutus and Tutsi minorities led to the massacre of at least 800 thousand people, mainly the Tutsis but many “moderate” Hutus. Embranya, who was the head of the Republican Guard, gave a list of people to be killed, including their family members, and played a key role in the atrocities. The panel that uncovered Embranya’s death arranged for the International Court of Justice, which had been conducting research until then, to settle cases that remained unresolved after it closed in 2015.

Serge Brammerts, the leader of the group, and his collaborators have long believed that Embrania was still alive, and followed various uncompromising ways or testimonies that led them to various countries on the African continent. “Her family and those close to her have been hiding the death of Embrania and her presence in Harare for years,” he said. Said Prammerts speaks Defender. “The document about him was full of information about his affairs in different countries, and he seemed to be very active. My ancestors may have focused on those tracks, and maybe I did the same thing in the beginning.

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Since 2015, the panel has reviewed the entire investigation into Embrania, double-checked the data, re-interviewed all witnesses, splitting each hypothesis and questioning their beliefs. They started with the only definite fact that Embranya was in the Congo in 2002, from where they tried to reconstruct every detail of her life, to think like him and to infer his actions. Despite the efforts, the research was slow and did not make significant progress, at least until a few months ago.

There is little information at this point in the investigation. In September 2021, a research team seized a computer and recovered it in an unidentified European country. Hundreds of photos and several emails were found inside the computer, which appear to refer to Embrania and her family, according to information in the possession of investigators. Some photos from before 2006 depict a funeral. There were also photos of the body similar to the coffin and Embrania.

On the computer, investigators also found a hand-drawn map of a tomb, which may be a model for the tomb: this is the decisive detail, because the tomb was dedicated to a particular Sambao Endeavor, who was born on the same day. Embrania on May 30, 1956. On the morning of February 7, the crew identified the almost invisible grave in the tall meadow at Grenville Cemetery. “I remember the moment my co-worker called us ‘discovered’!” Said one of the team members. “We just stared at it and it was just what we expected. All the hard work, the ups and downs, led to that moment.

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Zimbabwean authorities then allowed the team to exhume Embranya’s body for interrogation. On April 27, investigators said a UN report had been leaked. The coroner and three local investigators went to the cemetery to take a sample from the body. The trip, accompanied by 20 police officers, caught the attention of residents, who gathered in a small crowd around the cemetery.

The research work of Brammertz and his collaborators is not yet complete and they are looking for five other people accused of genocide. According to Prammerts, Embrania’s discovery could increase the pressure on governments of countries that have so far closed their tracks. Our goal is to arrest the fugitives, “said Brammerts. “But they have to calculate their responsibilities one way or another […]. The fact that this person is dead means that he can no longer do harm, and when he tries to recreate his life, he does not live his life as a fugitive somewhere.

– read more: The day the genocide began in Rwanda

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