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Rwandan genocide suspect seeks asylum in South Africa

Fulgens Kaishema denies involvement, seeking asylum for his role in Rwanda’s deadliest genocide episode.

Former Rwandan police officer Fulgens Kaishema, accused of taking part in the 1994 Rwandan genocide, has abandoned his appeal for bail and applied for asylum in South Africa, prosecuting authorities announced on Tuesday.

Kaishema, who has been on the run since 2001, was arrested last month at a vineyard outside Cape Town under the false name of Donatian Nibashumba.

The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) indicted him for genocide for his alleged role in the destruction of the Nyange Catholic Church, one of the bloodiest episodes of the 1994 Rwandan genocide, which killed 2,000 people.

Kaishema faces 54 charges in South Africa, including some related to immigration fraud, the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) announced in a statement, adding that the 62-year-old accused had “abandoned his bail application and will instead launch an asylum application today.”

However, the statement did not specify why Kayeshema was applying for asylum. Spokesmen for the NPA and the defense team did not immediately respond to Reuters requests for more information.

More than 800,000 Rwandans, mostly Tutsi, were killed by Hutu forces and vigilantes during 100 days of violence. Thousands of moderate Hutus were also killed in the violence, which is considered one of the worst atrocities of the 20th century.

At Nayange church, Hutu militiamen threw grenades and then doused it with fuel to set it on fire. When this fails, they bulldoze the church and kill most of the people hiding inside.

He has denied involvement in violence during the massacre, but said he was “sorry” for the killings during his court appearance in the South African city of Cape Town in May.

Kaishema’s arrest leaves only three fugitives indicted by the international tribunal whose whereabouts are still unknown. South African police said the arrest was in response to an Interpol red notice.

He remains in custody and the case has been adjourned to August 18 for further investigation.

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