The Zimbabwean government has refused to extradite Proitas Mpiranya to the UNs International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda where he is to face trial for organising the mass killings of nearly a million Rwandans from the Tutsi minority ethnic group during his time as head of the presidential guard.
Mpiranya is allegedly holed up in Norton, about 40km west of the capital Harare, where he has stayed since coming to Zimbabwe in 2001.
In a case similar to the highly publicised Mengistu extradition row between Zimbabwe and Ethiopia, security sources say the Harare authorities are not keen on giving up the fugitive to whom they feel indebted over his later reconnaissance role during the 1998-2001 Democratic Republic of Congo civil war.
Mpiranya was instrumental during the DRC war after he worked side by side with southern African Allied forces, which included Zimbabwe, Angola and Namibia.
He is believed to have supplied strategic information about the Rwandan military and also mobilised and trained Rwandans in refugee camps in eastern DRC to fight against the Rwandan army.
The Allied forces were fighting armies of Rwanda and Uganda which were backing several rebel groups seeking to topple the Kinshasa regime.
The sources said after the Congo war Mpiranya went to Zimbabwe with the blessings of top Zimbabwean commanders.
A diplomatic row is now brewing between Zimbabwe and Rwanda over allegations that Harare is protecting Mpiranya.
The Rwandan government last week called on the UN tribunal on the Rwanda genocide to take action against Zimbabwe and forced it to produce Mpiranya.
Rwandas Prosecutor General Martin Ngoga said the International Criminal Tribunal of Rwanda (ICTR) should move and bring Proitas Mpiranya to book.
Mpiranya is one of the most notorious fugitives wanted by the ICTR.
We didnt know that he was in Zimbabwe and it is very interesting to know that he is there. The ICTR should use this opportunity to bring him to book, Ngoga told Rwandas official daily.
He said the developments should trigger the ICTR into action and bring Mpiranya to book.
Foreign Affairs Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi was not available for comment but Harare is believed not to want to cooperate with Rwanda after the two nations backed opposite sides in the DRC war and also because Harare is unhappy after reports that Kigali sneaked spies into Zimbabwe.
The row between Harare and Kigali escalated earlier this month after Zimbabwe accused Rwandan secret agents of illegally entering the country in pursuit of Mpiranya.
Kigali has since denied the allegations, saying it would follow proper procedures to seek the extradition of Mpiranya.
This is the second time Zimbabwe has refused to extradite African officials accused of genocide in their own countries.
It has refused to hand over former Ethiopian dictator Mengistu Haile Marriam who is wanted in his country for the murder of more than 150 000 university students, intellectuals and politicians during a 1977-78 Red Terror campaign described by Human Rights Watch as “one of the most systematic uses of mass murder by a state ever witnessed in Africa”.
Mengistu fled to Zimbabwe in 1991 following an armed uprising against his rule and was granted political asylum by his old friend, President Robert Mugabe.
A former army colonel who ruled Ethiopia with an iron fist from 1974 to 1991, Mengistu was sentenced to death in May 2006 alongside 18 of his former senior officials.Post published in: Zimbabwe News