Brammertz visited Nyange Genocide Memorial in Ngororero District, where he held exchanges with the survivors about the actions of Fulgence Kayishema, a former police inspector accused of killing 2,000 Tutsi who sought refuge at Nyange Catholic Parish during the Genocide.
Kayishema was arrested on the outskirts of Cape Town, South Africa, in May.
Brammertz said the visit to the crime scene was more informative than any secondary information, such as witness statements, books by historians, politicians and journalists about the atrocities committed during the Genocide against the Tutsi.
“But nothing can replace a visit to the site to see where the crimes were committed, and even more so to speak with the survivors, as we did,” he said.
He promised the survivors that his office would do everything necessary to have Kayishema convicted, as well keep pursuing over 1,200 Genocide fugitives who are still on the run.
After Kayishema’s arrest, Brammertz said his office decided to plan a visit to Nyange to “meet the survivors and tell them symbolically that we’ve had him arrested, and tell them in advance, ‘You are still needed because the arrest is one phase but now the trial and getting him convicted is a different one,’” he said.
“The victims are in the centre of the entire process. Nothing can replace the importance of witnesses, survivors in court. They remind us every day again why it is so important even after 30 years to fight for justice and to make sure that accountability is still a priority.”
He added that he trusted South African authorities “will do everything necessary” to make sure that Kayishema is brought to Rwanda to stand trial.
Brammertz who is in Rwanda since July 24 was accompanied by Rwanda’s Prosecutor General Aimable Havugiyaremye.
The survivors had a lot of questions about how Kayishema was arrested, Havugiyaremye said of the importance of Brammertz’s meeting.
He added that though there is no reparation for loved ones and what the survivors lost, the arrest was something that makes them happy that at least justice will be served.
“We have evidence for Kayishema’s crimes. And we will continue to work together with [Brammertz’s office], as we have always done on other fugitives,” he said.
‘We ready to provide all information’
The survivors said Brammertz’s visit gave them hope that Kayishema could finally be brought to justice and that they were ready to facilitate the prosecution.
“We appreciate this visit by the people who arrested Kayishema and the discussions we have had,” Alexia Mukangarambe, who survived in Nyange, said.
“We asked them to bring Kayishema to Rwanda, and especially to try him in Nyange where he committed the crimes. Thanks to the good leadership Rwanda has today, if he is brought here, he will see how we have renewed in spite of what he did to us.”
“I know Kayishema, first, as a teacher and later as an inspector of the judicial police in Commune Kivumu. He was a friend of Father Seromba,” said Innocent Kamanzi, who was a minister at Nyange Parish.
On April 7, Kayishema and Father Seromba and the burgomaster convened a meeting and they decided to allow Tutsi to seek refuge at the parish so that they would be killed easily, Kamanzi said.
“Kayishema was assigned to encourage killings at his birthplace in Vungu (a part of Nyange). As people who know Kayishema, we are ready to give all the information we have about Kayishema so that justice can be served.”
Kayishema had been on the run for more than two decades. He disguised himself as a Burundian national and then as a Malawian. He used multiple names and aliases.
Until his arrest, Kayishema relied on a network of supporters including family members, members of the former Rwandan army and FDLR, as well as those aligned with the Hutu Power ideology.