Dutch arrest suspected militia leader over Rwanda genocide

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Dutch police have arrested a suspected Rwandan Hutu militia leader for his alleged role in the central African nation's 1994 genocide, a justice official said Friday.

"The 36-year-old man was taken into custody on Tuesday after a warrant for his arrest on suspicion of being involved in genocide was issued," public prosecution spokesman Wim de Bruin told AFP.

Law officers booked the unidentified man in a Hague suburb after Dutch authorities in 2011 turned down his application for refugee status in the Netherlands. His appeal was declared unfounded by a local court in March.

The decision to turn down his application was made "because the man is believed to have been involved in a mass murder at the ETO school in Kigali," De Bruin said.

Some 2,000 Tutsi victims were massacred on April 11, 1994 near the school based on the outskirts of the Rwandan capital after United Nations peacekeepers withdrew from the area, according to the Kigali Memorial Centre's website.

"Based on information from the Rwandan authorities and witness statements the man was involved in a number of (other) massacres and threatening and intimidation of Tutsis," public prosecutors added in a statement.

"The man is believed to have been a leader of the Interahamwe," the most important Hutu militia group during the genocide.

Rwanda's bloodshed was sparked when a plane carrying the country's then-president Juvenal Habyarimana, a Hutu, was shot down on April 6, 1994.

His death was blamed on Rwanda's minority Tutsi population, and over the next three months some 800,000 people died in an orgy of violence, according to UN figures.

Dutch courts can try Dutch citizens for genocide or foreign suspects if the genocide was committed after October 1970, following a recently-changed law to broaden prosecution possibilities for the most serious of all crimes.

In the first conviction of its kind, Rwandan-born Dutch citizen Yvonne Basebya was jailed in March to six years for inciting genocide during the 1994 massacres.

© 2013 AFP

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